It is hard to imagine the anguish and heartache of being told, as a young man, that your beloved Dad has around a year to live and that the irreversible death sentence was avoidable, a mistake made by medics.

Harder still to imagine, how, instead of love and support from sympathetic well-wishers you and your family become the victims of hatred and fear, prejudice and ignorance.

Homophobic slogans and swastikas were daubed on the door of Dave Farry’s childhood home in Ferryhill, while inside his father, his body ravaged by HIV, grew weaker by the day.

Tragically, it did not have to be this way for John Farry, a coil winder at Smart and Brown in Spennymoor, husband to Tina and a loving father to Dave and Derek.

Previously fit and healthy, he was diagnosed with a newly discovered deadly disease in 1984 after receiving Factor VIII blood supplement treatment for haemophilia on the NHS.

It transpired the UK had been importing blood contaminated with HIV and Hepatitis C from the United States - some from prisoners on death row - without screening it first.

At the time, neighbours in coalfield communities of County Durham were pitted against the Government of the day as part of the year-long Miners’ Strike as they strived to preserve a way of life.

But for thousands more like the Farry family new battle lines were being drawn.

And now, 40 years later, they are still fighting for justice.  

The Northern Echo: Dave Farry Dave Farry (Image: Sarah Caldecott)

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Dave Farry, 61, said: “We had our front door daubed with ‘AIDS’ and swastikas in white paint.

“People were braying on the door and it just went on and on and on.”

“Nobody knew what the effect was going to be on other people at the time.”

In the mid-80s there were no effective treatments for HIV and AIDS, a disease first detected in men from the gay community, and a positive test result meant certain death.

These were less enlightened times in terms of LGBT+ rights, and fuelled by an irresponsible media, the epidemic was cruelly and ignorantly dubbed the ‘gay plague’.

Mr Farry and his dad became the subject of homophobic abuse when it became known John was HIV positive, irrespective of how he became infected.

Mr Farry, a father-of-two, said: “It was a far less PC world, especially in a small community like ours.

“Being gay then was not seen as being ‘normal’.

“My dad was not even gay, but that was what people were saying.

“You knew your friends and neighbours, everyone knew each other.

“All of a sudden normality went out of the window. Some would support you, but others did not quite understand.

“People’s mindsets were very narrow. It is terrible really.

“What goes through though people minds to make them daub ‘AIDS’ or swastikas on a front door?

“It affected the whole family. It was harrowing at the time.”

Mr Farry said, as well as the abuse and the heartache of John’s illness, the family finances also suffered following his diagnosis and subsequent decline.

Mr Farry, then an apprentice bricklayer, said his father, who had been very active, just dwindled away.

He said: “He was constantly tired and was always in and out of hospital with infections.

“He became thinner and weaker.

“He was no longer able to work and that had a big impact on our finances.

“My mum worked as a nurse and had to take time off so she could take my dad to the hospital.”

John died from pneumonia on November 3, 1985.

He was 52.

The Northern Echo: John Farry John Farry (Image: Contributor)

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He is thought to be one of 3,000 people who died after they were accidentally infected as a part of their treatment between the 70s and the 90s with thousands more living with ongoing health complications as a result.

The UK-wide infected blood inquiry, announced in 2017 after years of campaigning by victims, was led by former judge Sir Brian Langstaff, and took evidence between 2019 and 2023.

The Government has already said those infected will receive compensation payment of £100,000 but has reserved judgement on whether to compensate those affected as well until the final report is published on May 20.

The Northern Echo:

When Mr Farry gave evidence to the inquiry, in 2020, he candidly revealed the profound impact of his father’s death.

He said he suffered from depression and post-traumatic stress as a result, sometimes turning to alcohol abuse, and ‘blanked out’ details from that period of his life a coping mechanism.

In his evidence to the inquiry Mr Farry said: “I have suffered greatly as the impact of my father's death lasted for decades.

“We were very close and we did everything together.

“I feel that I have missed out on doing all the usual things that other people do with their fathers, like just going to the pub together.

“I still haven't come to terms with what happened to my dad.”

The Northern Echo: John Farry died aged 52 John Farry died aged 52 (Image: Contributor)