Dame Barbara Windsor urged people to ‘make a stand against dementia’

PA

Dame Barbara Windsor and her husband wanted to raise awareness of dementia after the star was diagnosed with the condition.

The former EastEnders and Carry On actress discovered she was suffering from Alzheimer’s in 2014, and the couple went public four years later.

Dame Barbara’s decision to do so helped bring the disease – which has no cure – out into the open, charities said.

The star herself was said to have been “thrilled” by the response to going public, saying “I’m helping people”, according to her friend, columnist Jane Moore.

Dame Barbara Windsor meeting Prime Minister Boris Johnson
Dame Barbara Windsor meeting Prime Minister Boris Johnson

Husband Scott Mitchell said that the couple were “really nervous” about revealing she was suffering from the condition.

“But when we did, there was such an incredible reaction of love and support,” he later said.

A year later, the TV star delivered a letter, signed by 100,000 people, to Boris Johnson.

It pleaded for better care for dementia sufferers, saying the system is “completely inadequate, unfair, unsustainable and in dire need of more money”.

At the end of their chat, Dame Barbara turned to the Prime Minister and asked: “Can I have a kiss?”

Dame Barbara Windsor and her husband Scott Mitchell deliver an Alzheimer’s Society open letter to 10 Downing Street
Dame Barbara Windsor and her husband Scott Mitchell deliver an Alzheimer’s Society open letter to 10 Downing Street

Dame Barbara appeared on video, in her home in 2018, to speak publicly about dementia.

Her husband and former EastEnders co-stars raised more than £150,000 by running the London Marathon in aid of a dementia campaign.

And Dame Barbara was credited by her friend and former Albert Square co-star Ross Kemp for helping to change the way people think about the condition.

“For a lot of people, when they get that diagnosis they don’t know what to do, and I think someone like Dame Barbara talking about it lifts some of that stigma,” the actor, who made an ITV documentary on dementia, told The One Show.

In early 2020, Mitchell told how his wife’s condition had “deepened”, and how she often asks where he lives and does not know who he is.

EastEnders actress Dame Barbara Windsor and husband Scott Mitchell
EastEnders actress Dame Barbara Windsor and husband Scott Mitchell

It worsened during lockdown and she was moved to a care home in July 2020.

“I walk around, trying to keep busy, then burst into tears. It feels like a bereavement,” Mitchell told The Sun.

“It’s always been my biggest fear, that one day I would have to take her somewhere and she’d be thinking, ‘Why would he do this to me?’.

“That fear has become a reality. It’s something I never wanted.”

Less than two years earlier Dame Barbara appeared on a video in aid of a campaign to raise funds and change attitudes towards the condition.

“I’m asking you to make a stand against dementia,” she said.

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