Dame Barbara Windsor’s widower to become dementia ‘people’s champion’

Dame Barbara Windsor’s widower Scott Mitchell has been appointed “people’s champion” of the UK’s dementia mission, which was launched in memory of beloved star.

Mr Mitchell said he was “honoured” to carry on his wife’s campaigning work to help people with the condition.

He praised the “bravery” of the former EastEnders and Carry On actress, saying that her work had a “powerful impact”.

Mr Mitchell (pictured), who married the actress in 2000, said he wanted to “keep her story alive” and vowed to put “people at the heart” of the UK’s dementia mission.

He is to attend a Downing Street summit on Wednesday, where officials have invited charities, academics, investors, business leaders and people with lived experience to come together to “accelerate efforts to tackle this devastating illness”.

Dame Barbara, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2014, died in 2020 aged 83.

Former prime minister Boris Johnson launched the Dame Barbara Windsor Dementia Mission to develop innovative research tools and increase the number and speed of clinical trials in dementia and neurodegeneration.

Before her death, the star campaigned to improve dementia care and research and was credited with helping others to speak openly about their own experiences after the decision to make her diagnosis public in 2018.

The Government also announced that it is awarding 10 projects a share of £6 million to boost clinical trials and innovation in the field, including: a new project which hopes to use AI to aid dementia diagnoses: a study which will examine whether retinal scans can detect early-onset dementia decades before symptoms and research into an AI tool designed to improve the accuracy of blood tests for dementia.

Mr Mitchell said: “I am honoured to be appointed as the People’s Champion of the Dame Barbara Windsor Dementia Mission, that was named after my late wife.

“She lived an extraordinary life, and her brave campaigning made a powerful impact on so many others who were going through the same.

“I want to keep her story alive and help bring to light the stories of so many others who are affected by this terrible disease.

“I want to use this role to ensure that the path of the Dementia Mission puts people at its heart, so that together we can tackle dementia and have a positive impact on all those affected.”

Health and Social Care Secretary Victoria Atkins said: “Dementia can be a devastating illness and I want to see the Dementia Mission driving forward research to unlock the next generation of treatments in Dame Barbara’s memory.”

Michelle Donelan, Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology, added: “Dementia is an incredibly cruel disease, and as the leading cause of death in the UK nearly every family is affected by it in some way.

“Dame Barbara’s brave campaigning, supported by her husband Scott Mitchell, made that devastating impact powerfully clear to everyone.

“As a life sciences world leader, the UK is uniquely placed to make a difference in the fight against dementia, and by bringing academia, industry, the NHS and those with lived experience together we are determined to do just that.

“Now we need to keep mobilising the resources needed to fuel this vital work – from the funds raised by charities large and small, to the industry backing that’s crucial to delivering more breakthroughs.”

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