Friday, 12 September 2014

Real inspiration

Click here to visit Gandys webpage
Since I started writing this blog lots of things have changed for me - most notably I've been fortunate enough to pick up some real writing work.  One of the other spin offs is that I occasionally get offered free stuff - nothing too flash or fancy - usually books, invites to events, meals etc.  We very, very rarely take up these offers - I'd much rather experience something as a paying guest and be free to say what I genuinely think than feel I ought to say something nice because I got sent it for free or was bribed in some way by nice hospitality.

Last week we got an invite which was a little different and you can tell how eager I was to attend because a) I willingly gave up 2 days of our precious hols to travel to London, b) I wore girl clothes and c) I put on make up for the third time this year (a new personal record).  So what was it that caused such a reaction?  The Gandys End of Summer Party.

L-R Rob Forkan, Newton Faulkner, Paul Forkan

If you don't know who Gandys are, let me explain.  In 2004 when the Boxing Day tsunami hit Sri Lanka, Rob and Paul Forkan (and their siblings Matty and Rosie) lost both their parents.  These weren't over privileged kids on a flashy Christmas break - this was a family that had spent years travelling to some of the poorest parts of the world working on humanitarian projects.  You can read more of their journey in their own words here.

Determined to do something which would both honour their parents memory and ensure something positive came out of such an awful tragedy they founded Gandys as a sustainable social enterprise.  They sell flip flops to generate income which in turn provides nutrition, education and support to children living in appalling conditions - they have already funded children's homes in India and Sri Lanka and their vision is to open them all around the world.

Newton Faulkner before the power died...
The end of summer party was a chance to celebrate everything they have achieved so far and an unassuming beer garden was transformed into a beach party with henna tattoos, pedicures and iced drinks for all. Newton Faulkner provided the perfect soundtrack performing a small but lovingly crafted set.  The power gliched halfway through his final number but the crowd enthusiastically stepped in supplying both vocals and percussion when needed.

A few people have very kindly said that in some tiny way I've inspired them, well these two guys inspire me.  I lost my father quite suddenly when I was just 18 but the experience had a profound effect on my life and my personal values so I absolutely understand what drives Rob and Paul.  When something like that happens it permanently changes the way you see the world and switches your priorities for ever.

If you don't already own a pair then you can buy your Gandys flipflops here (just don't let me catch you wearing them atop of Helvellyn!).  Rob and Paul have also written a book about their journey so far - it's not available until 27th November but you can pre-order it on Amazon here.  I've not used this blog to promote anything in the past so hopefully, as this is such an amazing story, you'll forgive me just this once.