How Dame Barbara Windsor fought for Alzheimer's sufferers and 'lifted stigma' of disease

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, who has died at the age of 83, 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. 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. With Pam St Clement in 2015. The pair had a fierce on-screen rivalry in EastEnders but were good friends Credit: PA 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 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. Windsor and her husband, Scott Mitchell, in 2009 Credit: PA 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 a statement on Friday, the Alzheimer's Society praised Dame Barbara and her husband, saying it is "incredibly grateful" for their work bringing awareness to the disease. The charity said: "Dame Barbara Windsor was an amazingly true, much-loved national treasure, and in speaking out about her experiences shone like a beacon for others affected by dementia. "Alzheimer's Society is incredibly grateful to have had Barbara and her husband Scott's support - what they achieved over the last couple of years for dementia has been truly awe-inspiring." The charity said Dame Barbara and her husband were instrumental in helping its Dementia Revolution campaign raise £4 million for the Dementia Research Institute. 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. 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.

How Dame Barbara Windsor fought for Alzheimer's sufferers and 'lifted stigma' of disease

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, who has died at the age of 83, 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.

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.

With Pam St Clement in 2015. The pair had a fierce on-screen rivalry in EastEnders but were good friends Credit: PA

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 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.

Windsor and her husband, Scott Mitchell, in 2009 Credit: PA

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 a statement on Friday, the Alzheimer's Society praised Dame Barbara and her husband, saying it is "incredibly grateful" for their work bringing awareness to the disease.

The charity said: "Dame Barbara Windsor was an amazingly true, much-loved national treasure, and in speaking out about her experiences shone like a beacon for others affected by dementia.

"Alzheimer's Society is incredibly grateful to have had Barbara and her husband Scott's support - what they achieved over the last couple of years for dementia has been truly awe-inspiring."

The charity said Dame Barbara and her husband were instrumental in helping its Dementia Revolution campaign raise £4 million for the Dementia Research Institute.

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.

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.