Barbara Windsor’s widower calls on Liz Truss not to scrap dementia taskforce in memory of TV icon

Dame Barbara Windsor meeting Prime Minister Boris Johnson after she delivered an Alzheimer's Society open letter to 10 Downing Street
Dame Barbara Windsor meeting Prime Minister Boris Johnson after she delivered an Alzheimer's Society open letter to 10 Downing Street

Dame Barbara Windsor’s Widower, has said roughly £95 million in funding is at risk after recruitment for the project was paused in recent weeks.

Published Last updated

Former Prime Minister, Boris Johnson met Mr. Mitchell at Downing Street to discuss the launch of a “national mission” including an appeal for “Babs Army” of volunteers to take part in clinical trials on new preventative therapies for Dementia.

Speaking on the meeting, Mr Mitchell said: “When I went to see the last prime minister in August, just before he left, he said ‘Look, I have listened about this taskforce. We did a big conference with Dame Kate Bingham, who headed up the Covid (vaccine taskforce), and I have set aside £95 million, and with your blessing we would like to call it the Dame Barbara Windsor Dementia Mission’.

Dame Barbara Windsor, who was well known for playing Peggy Mitchell in EastEnders died in 2020 from Alzheimer’s. Before her death she helped spearhead a campaign to raise awareness of dementia when her husband disclosed in 2018 that she had been diagnosed with the disease four years earlier.

Queen Elizabeth II during her visit to Elstree Studios where EastEnders
Queen Elizabeth II during her visit to Elstree Studios where EastEnders

“I just went ‘Wow, she would just be looking down and thrilled’.

Speaking to ITV’s Lorraine he said:

“The interviews to put people in place for this were supposed to take place two weeks ago. They were cancelled at the last minute and told that there are issues with the budget sign-off for the dementia taskforce.

“Now, I understand that we are in a very bad place as far as the economy and savings and cuts. Dementia cannot be touched.”

Mr Mitchell said dementia treatments could take two or three years before becoming “active in the system”.

He added: “If you delay this now, again, after all these years, we are going to be talking about another five or six years before this can happen.

“So please, Prime Minister, if you listen to things like this, do not touch that money. Do not hold this. Do not delay this.

“That is the only thing that gets me passionate or political, is what people go through.”

A statement from Downing Street earlier this year revealed that the mission would be driven by a new taskforce, bringing together industry, the NHS, academics and families living with the disease.

It will build on recent advances in biological and data sciences, including genomics, artificial intelligence (AI) and the latest brain imaging technology, to test new treatments from a growing range of possible options.