Dame Barbara Windsor has appeared on video for the first time to speak publicly about dementia – as her husband said that “there is still so much of her there” despite her illness.
With her trademark twinkle in her eye, the ex-Carry On and EastEnders’ star, 81, is filmed in her home.
She calls on people to run next year’s London Marathon in aid of a campaign to raise funds and change attitudes towards the condition.
Wearing a blue Dementia Revolution T-shirt and her blonde hair up in a bun, she says: “I’m asking you to make a stand against dementia.”
Taking part will “support groundbreaking research to find a cure for a condition that affects so many people, like me. With your help we can and will end dementia with research”.
Her husband Scott Mitchell announced he will run the 2019 Virgin Money London Marathon for his wife and the millions of people around the world who suffer from dementia.
“The last few years have been really hard for both Barbara and me as we got used to the profound effect dementia has had on our lives,” he says.
“I have seen many changes in Barbara since her diagnosis and at times its effects can be stronger than others.
“We kept her diagnosis quiet for so long and we were really nervous about going public with the news –
but when we did, there was such an incredible reaction of love and support.
“Sometimes Barbara still thinks no-one knows about her condition and makes a big thing of keeping it a secret when we see people we know or meet people out and about.”
He said he had “many conversations” with the star in recent months to explain that it was no longer under wraps.
“Despite all the changes in Barbara, there is still so much of her there. Her humour, wit and care for others for example. It is her humour I love the most – we have always laughed a lot.”
Mitchell said of the London Marathon: “I don’t know how fast I will run it, but for me it is more about completing the marathon, no matter what the time, to show my support for Barbara and all the other people living with dementia across the country.”
Mitchell revealed earlier this year that his wife had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2014.
He urged anyone who has got a place in the marathon ballot “and still isn’t sure who to run for” to “join the Dementia Revolution team with me to show all our loved ones with dementia, like Barbara, that they are not alone and we stand with them”.
The Dementia Revolution is a joint campaign by the Alzheimer’s Society and Alzheimer’s Research UK to change attitudes to dementia and “raise millions of pounds for the most ambitious dementia research initiative the UK has ever seen”.
Alzheimer’s Society chief executive Jeremy Hughes said: “There are currently no effective treatments to slow, prevent or cure dementia, but scientists are working tirelessly to beat it.
“By joining the Dementia Revolution, we can and will end dementia with research.”
Alzheimer’s Research UK chief executive Hilary Evans said: “We’re urgently calling on people who have secured a place in the 2019 Virgin Money London Marathon to stand with us, join the Dementia Revolution and help change the lives of people with dementia.”