I needed Barbara’s stairlift after marathon, says EastEnders star’s husband

Scott Mitchell during the launch of the 2020 Virgin Money London Marathon, held at Tower Bridge in London.
Scott Mitchell during the launch of the 2020 Virgin Money London Marathon, held at Tower Bridge in London.

Dame Barbara Windsor’s husband Scott Mitchell said he is making sure his wife’s stairlift is working, as he prepares for his second London Marathon.

Mitchell, who finished in five hours and 41 minutes last year, said “it took from Sunday to the following weekend to walk normally”.

When he got home, he remembered he would have to make it up the stairs.

“I looked down and there was Barbara’s stairlift and I honestly cried with joy,” he said. “I used it for three days.”

Barbara Windsor
Dame Barbara Windsor and her husband Scott Mitchell at 10 Downing Street in September 2019 (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Speaking at the launch of the 2020 Virgin Money London Marathon at Tower Bridge on Tuesday, he said: “The maintenance of that is, from a very selfish point of view, being kept up.”

Dame Barbara, who is best known for her roles in EastEnders and the Carry On films, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2014, and last year Mitchell ran for the Dementia Revolution campaign which raised more than £4 million.

A team of EastEnders stars joined his Barbara’s Revolutionaries team, and Tanya Franks (who plays Rainie Cross) and Jake Wood (Max Branning) will also run again this year which is the 40th London Marathon.

Franks’ stepfather Derek has Alzheimer’s Disease.

“It was possibly the best day of my life,” Mitchell said of the 2019 event, which fell on April 28, his 56th birthday.

“I got home and I couldn’t move.

“The first thing I said afterwards, especially the next morning, was never again.”

Investitures at Buckingham Palace
Dame Barbara Windsor with husband Scott Mitchell at Buckingham Palace in 2016 (John Stillwell/PA)

Mitchell was praised for raising awareness of dementia by talking about his wife’s condition, and his own challenges as her carer.

The “incredible” fundraising for the campaign – a year-long campaign formed by dementia charities Alzheimer’s Society and Alzheimer’s Research UK – also made him want to run again.

“When we went public there was a really big reaction,” he said.

He said although his wife could not always remember that people knew about her diagnosis, she had always been a charitable person who had wanted to make a difference to others.

In September, the couple went to 10 Downing Street to meet Prime Minister Boris Johnson to deliver an open letter from the Alzheimer’s Society, calling on him to address the “devastating state” of dementia care.

Barbara Windsor
Dame Barbara Windsor with Prime Minister Boris Johnson (Simon Dawson/PA)

Mitchell said exercise had also helped him to cope with their situation, and urged other carers to try to make time for themselves.

“The running has saved me in many ways,” he said.

“In the past year I have realised how important the self-care part part for the carer really is.

“I have my bit of space when I can think. I don’t have to worry about what else is going on.

“The person living with it is the one going through it, but the families and the carers really do need to be thought about too.

“We need to fix our social care problem.”

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