Tributes to 'incredible' gent and infected blood campaigner

Tributes have been paid to Barford infected blood campaigner Michael Colyer

Michael Colyer, pictured in 2015 has been a campaigner for the infected blood inquiry - Credit: Archant Norfolk

Tributes have been paid to 'a true gent' and respected campaigner who fought for those impacted by the worst tragedy of the NHS . 

Michael Colyer, from Barford, near Wymondham, suffered from mild haemophilia and was first diagnosed with the condition when he was seven. 

He was one of thousands of patients given blood products contaminated with HIV and Hepatitis C in the 1970s and 1980s, which is the centre of an ongoing public inquiry.

Mr Colyer died on June 28 at the age of 70 after being diagnosed with liver cancer in 2019, a result of lesions developed on his liver due to Hepatitis C. 

A service was held on Monday, where family and friends paid tribute to the keen sailor, car lover and entertainer.

Tributes have been paid to Michael Colyer, pictured with his wife Helen.

Tributes have been paid to Michael Colyer, pictured with his wife Helen. - Credit: Helen Colyer

His wife Helen, who he married in 1980, said: "He always had time for people. He always liked making people happy. He was a bit of a joker, if we were to describe him he was the jester.

"He campaigned for more than 20 years. He thought rather than get depressed he would get more proactive, he started getting in touch with MPs and going out and finding out the information."

Most Read

Born on May 28 1951 in Suez, Egypt, Mr Colyer was the son of army officer Roy Colyer and his wife Joan. 

He studied at London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, specialising in Shakespeare and the classics, and would go on to tour in repertory companies.

It was on tour as Puck in A Midsummer Night's Dream that he met his wife in 1979.

They married and have two children, Tom and Nick. In London he worked at the Young Vic in the musical Godspell before moving into furniture restoration and later a postman.

The late campaigners Michael Colyer and Annie Walker

Michael Colyer pictured with the late Annie Walker who he worked with to campaign to support Hepatitis C sufferers. - Credit: EDP/ Archant © 2003

It was in 1994 he learned that he had been infected with Hepatitis B and C after a tooth extraction revealed abnormal levels in his liver. 

He began treatment which led him to begin research and more than two decades of campaigning, helping create the region's Hepatitis C strategy with Norfolk's public health director. 

Son Tom remembered the many trips they took as a family sailing as members of  Hickling Broad Sailing Club and that his dad was affectionately known as Pop C by his three grandchildren.

He said: "A big part of his life in recent years was campaigning for justice in light of the Hepatitis C he was knowingly given through contaminated blood decades ago.

"Dad had so many friends who I never knew personally, and I’m blown away by the positive impact he had on them all. I’m pleased he’s resting peacefully now, but we must continue to support those who have suffered with the various blood illnesses as it’s what he was so passionate about. Dad was an incredible person, and I will always love him."

Michael Colyer was reunited with his red MGA in 2019.

Michael Colyer was reunited with his red MGA in 2019. - Credit: Helen Colyer

A car lover, Mr Colyer was reunited with his red 1960 MGA having tracked it down and bought it back and had it restored shortly before an operation to remove the right side of his liver.

His son said the car would be at the service, adding he was sure his dad would be smiling.

A floral arrangement from campaigners in memory of Michael Colyer

"Michael was a true fighter until the end." A floral arrangement from campaigners in memory of Michael Colyer - Credit: Michelle Tolley

Infected blood campaigners Michelle Tolley and Steve Bartram paid tribute to their friend's dedication to fight for a fair deal for victims of the scandal. 

He also went into prisons to encourage prisoners to take Hepatitis C treatment that he had undergone.

Mr Bartram said: "We became friends from our first meeting. Michael made me realise I wasn't on my own and there was thousands of people with contaminated blood and blood products.

"He was a true gent and always willing to talk and give sound advice. I'm sad to say that I have lost another friend to contaminated blood, another friend who has been denied justice, my heart goes out to Michael's wife, Helen and his family."

Mrs Tolley added: "Michael was the most unique and amazing man I've ever met. Goodbyes hurt the most when his story never finished." 

Mr Colyer is survived by his wife Helen, sons Tom and Nick and three grandchildren Iris, Oscar and Felicity.