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Dame Barbara Windsor would be so proud of work we’ve done to tackle dementia, says devoted widower Scott Mitchell

DAME Barbara Windsor’s widower Scott Mitchell is to play a key role in a national dementia initiative that honours her.

He will be the People’s Champion of the Dame Barbara Windsor Dementia Mission.

Barbara Windsor’s widow Scott Mitchell, right, will take up a new role as People’s Champion of the Dame Barbara Windsor Dementia MissionGetty

Scott cared for Babs after she fell ill with dementia back in 2014PA

It was set up two years ago by then PM Boris Johnson in memory of EastEnders and Carry On legend Babs, who died of Alzheimer’s disease in 2020, age 83.

The taskforce of NHS and industry leaders, as well as academics and charities, has also announced an extra £6million for clinical trials and innovation.

It needs volunteers to join a Babs’ Army by signing up to the trials.

Scott, 61, cared for actress Babs after she fell ill with dementia in 2014.

Experts fear the number of sufferers, currently 944,000, will pass the million mark by 2025.

Science Secretary Michelle Donelan said: “It is an incredibly cruel disease and the leading cause of death in the UK.”

Scott tells Caroline Iggulden why his new role would have meant so much to Barbara . . .  

“I will never stop being proud of the courage, dignity and generosity Barbara showed in trying to raise awareness of Alzheimer’s disease for as long as she could, while dealing with her own illness.

She gave a voice to millions affected by this terrible disease and we were told that her speaking out changed the whole conversation around dementia.

I know how proud she would have been when, almost two years ago, we launched the Dame Barbara Windsor Dementia Mission in her memory.

Since then a lot has happened, from funding to boost vital research into dementia to our Babs’ Army of volunteers supporting important clinical trials.

But until we find a cure there is still so much more for us to do.

People come up to me on the street to talk about Alzheimer’s. Maybe they’ve got it, maybe it’s a family member, maybe they’re raising money for charity.

After going through the heartbreak of slowly losing Barbara to this cruel disease, I am convinced that as many of these stories as possible need to be heard.

That is why I was delighted when asked to be the People’s Champion for the Dementia Mission.

Scott says Babs would be so proud of the dementia taskforce launched in her memoryPA

So much positive work is now happening to tackle dementia.

Awareness of the disease is going from strength to strength thanks to support from friends including The Sun, which covered Barbara’s dementia story from the very start.

And we now have charities, industry, the Government and our NHS all working together under one national mission, and public funding for dementia research is being doubled.

But for this to work, it is vital the real, lived experiences of people affected are front and centre of everything we do.

Losing Barbara was unspeakably hard but the work we are doing now to give everyone affected by dementia a voice, in Barbara’s memory, inspires me and gives me hope.

I want to live up to the name of People’s Champion, and can’t wait to get out across the country to hear from patients, their families and more.

I am determined their stories, and what they need, will be put at the heart of what the UK is doing – so we get solutions that work, from new clinical trials and tests to spot Alzheimer’s earlier, to improved care.

That work begins today, in the heart of government, with an event at No 10 bringing together those with lived experience, charities, the NHS and industry.

I’m so pleased that, as a country, we are finally giving this issue the attention it needs.

We still have a long way to go on the mission to beat dementia but by working together we can and will win.”

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