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Vicar who runs dementia support program says Dame Barbara Windsor left lasting imprint on Alzheimer's awareness

by Tola Mbakwe
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Dame Barbara Windsor has been remembered for legacy not only in entertainment but also in raising awareness of Alzheimer's disease.

The much-loved star, who suffered from the illness, died on Thursday evening at a London care home, aged 83. 

She was best known for the Carry On films and for her role as Queen Vic landlady Peggy Mitchell in EastEnders.

Rev Steve Morris from St Cuthbert's church in north Wembley supports people with dementia through a so-called memory cafe.

He commended Dame Barbara's bravery for sharing that she was living with the disease.

"I've seen people with dementia and Alzheimer's really close up. And it is not for the faint hearted, it really is the most extraordinarily difficult journey," he said.

"In a way, I was very admiring of her, that when she came out and said that's what she had, it was very helpful. 

"People are sometimes ashamed of it, families are ashamed of it, and there's no need to be ashamed. And I think Barbara's bravery and honesty is really going to be her lasting legacy."

In May 2018, Dame Windsor's husband, Scott Mitchell revealed in an interview that Dame Barbara had been living with Alzheimer's after being diagnosed in April 2014.


File photo dated 02/09/2019 of Dame Barbara Windsor and her husband Scott Mitchell arriving to deliver an Alzheimer's Society open letter to 10 Downing Street in Westminster, London.  Photo Credit: 
Dominic Lipinski/ PA

In August 2020 Mr Mitchell said that Dame Barbara had been moved to a care home as she struggled with her advancing dementia.

Rev Morris, who's the author of "Our Precious Lives", a book about the need to listen to people stories and learn from people who are losing their memory, said though her death is very saddening, her legacy won't be forgotten. 

"There's a kind of terror and stigma that happens in places that are that are not in the light… places that are hidden," he said. 

"And so, what she's done is she's kind of shone a light on to her condition and people still know that she's Babs, she's still Barbara Windsor. And that's really important."

Mr Mitchell, who alongside his wife campaigned for greater dementia care from the Government, added: "Dementia/Alzheimer's remains the UKs number one killer. Although in challenging times, I urge the Prime Minister, his government and other parties to be true to their previous promises and invest more into dementia/Alzheimer's research and care.

"Thank you to all the doctors, nurses and carers who are angels at the care home for your kindness and care to Barbara and I throughout her stay with you. You are my heroes.

Listen to Premier's interview with Rev Steve Morris here: 

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