Contaminated Blood: Revisiting the Hampshire school where dozens of pupils died

Special video report by ITV News Meridian's Rachel Hepworth

Former pupils at a school in Hampshire, where dozens of children died after being given infected blood, have been describing the trauma of losing classmates and living with deadly diseases.

"The impact was a bomb. We were given two years to live - we were going to die, and most of us did."

The haunting words of Ade Goodyear, 50, from Portsmouth, who was sent to Treloars College in Alton at the age of 10.

A haemophiliac, he was one of around 100 pupils infected at the school between 1974 and 1987, after being given a drug contaminated with HIV and viral hepatitis.

Ade Goodyear lost two older brothers after they were given infected blood

Since then, at least 72 have died, while survivors have had to live with decades of ill-health, stigma and little or no support.

This week, a public inquiry is hearing from students and parents at the school, caught up in what has been described as the worst treatment disaster in the history of the NHS.

In total around 30,000 men, women and children are thought to have been infected with contaminated blood. Almost 3000 of them have since died.

Ade Goodyear describes the shock of being told he was infected with HIV


It is a rare genetic condition in which the blood does not clot properly. It mostly affects men but is passed through the female line.

People with the condition produce lower amounts of the essential blood-clotting protein known as factor VIII and IX.

Surviving pupils made a pact with classmates to get to the truth

For boys like Ade, arriving at Treloars was a godsend. He had previously been bullied, his arm had been broken by a boy "who wanted to see what happened when you hit a haemophiliac."

He was used to seeing "home, hospital, a sofa and not much more" but at Treloars he made friends, was free to run around, play football and get an education.

Treloars was a paradise for pupils, in the Hampshire countryside

Steve Nicholls, 54, agrees: "The bonds and the friendships that were formed here were more than the normal friends and relationships. We became like blood brothers and I think that's how we all consider ourselves"

Steve Nicholls and Gary Webster describe the bonds forged at Treloars

Steve, from Farnham, went to Treloars in 1976 when he was eight. He gave evidence at the beginning of the enquiry and describes how the arrival of Factor VIII initially transformed their lives for the better:

"Someone came along and said look guys, rather than you having to go to hospital and hold your arm out and be there overnight for a long transfusion, you're going to have a 60mil syringe that's going to take 10 minutes to give yourself and then you can go back out and play football, and basically, what nine or 10 year old is not going to say 'yep- I'll have that'"

What they didn't know was that Factor 8 was, in some cases, made from blood donated by groups at high risk of HIV and hepatitis, including drug addicts and prisoners in America, paid for their donation.

Factor 8 was routinely given to haemophiliacs

As early as 1975  boys at Treloars began to fall ill, initially with hepatitis. Former pupils remember boys turning yellow, and being segregated from other students. But by the early 1980s, with the stigma of AIDS at its highest-  they began to receive devastating news that they were infected with not only hepatitis, but HIV too.

Lee Moorey, 48, remembers that moment vividly: "I came here when I was 12 years old. Two years later, I was told I had only two years to live"

Lee met his future wife while they were pupils at Treloars. She sadly died in the early 2000s. His return to Treloars today is the first time he has felt able to come.

(L-R) Ade Goodyear, Steve Nicholls, Gary Webster, Richard Warwick and Lee Moorey re-visit Treloars

The day is emotional for all of them. We are here at the invitation of Treloars, a chance for the former students to remember the friends they lost.

"We made a pledge then that we'll see this through" says Steve. "If there's ever anyone around, we'll find out and get to the truth. That's why we're here today."

Gary Webster, 56, from Eastleigh, agrees. He was sent to the school in 1975, one of the first haemophiliacs to attend: "It's only when we're all together that we can truly be ourselves" he says. "We all just understand what each of us has been through, we've shared the pain, the disappointments, the anger, both at school and since"

Another of the group, Richard Warwick, 55, from Scarborough, says the repercussions are lifelong: "There is another burden, and that is of survivor's guilt- because we have lost so many school friends, people who we thought were untouchables at the time- and that is a very hard pill to swallow"

They hope the inquiry will bring answers and accountability, a promise made by the Treloars boys 30 years ago.

Lee Moorey, Ade Goodyear, Richard Warwick and Steve Nichols describe their hopes for the inquiry.

They've been well-supported by Treloars, which remains a pioneering and outstanding school- windows in the chapel commemorate the pupils they lost, and they have never shied away from what is a tragic part of their past:

"It will never be forgotten." says CEO of the Treloars Trust, Ryan Campbell. "It's obviously a cause of such sorrow to us that the infected blood scandal touched them and their time at Treloars.

It's hoped the public inquiry, due to run for another year, and chaired by Sir Brian Langstaff, will be able to answer questions about what happened at Treloar's and the NHS haemophiliac centre run from the site.

Families want to know why they were not told about the potential risks of Factor VIII earlier and why it took many years until the drug was heat treated to kill viruses and other contaminants.

Until that time, the Treloars boys will continue to honour the pledge they made to their classmates:

"There's all the people who should be here" says Ade. "They should be and they're not. It's a lot of responsibility for us to carry and for their families.

"There are people now hiding away so we have to speak up and treasure their memory and make sure that we carry it as best as we can."