08/01/2019 00:01 GMT | Updated 08/01/2019 00:01 GMT

Barbara Windsor's 'EastEnders' Pals Join Dementia Fight Running London Marathon

The actor was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in 2014.

Just three months after Dame Barbara Windsor spoke for the first time about her Alzheimer’s diagnosis, close friends have revealed they’ll be running the London Marathon to raise money for dementia research.

Actors Adam Woodyatt, Jake Wood, Emma Barton, Natalie Cassidy, Kellie Shirley, Tanya Franks, Jamie Borthwick and Jane Slaughter will be running together, forming the all-star team known as ‘Barbara’s Revolutionaries’ (you can sponsor them here).

Dame Windsor said: “It means so much to me to see some of my closest friends coming together to support this cause. And I know it will mean a lot to everyone else living with dementia.”

Dementia Revolution
Left to right: Jane Slaughter, Kellie Shirley, Jamie Borthwick, Scott Mitchell, Emma Barton and Tanya Franks.

The actors will run for Dementia Revolution, a year-long campaign created by dementia charities Alzheimer’s Society and Alzheimer’s Research UK.

In a video released this morning, the group of actors who worked with Dame Windsor on the popular soap ‘Eastenders’ met for a training session with her husband Scott Mitchell.

Dame Windsor was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2014, however the public only became aware in October 2018, when her husband announced he would be running the marathon on 28 April, coincidentally his 56th birthday, to raise money for dementia research.

PA Wire/PA Images
Dame Barbara Windsor

In a video which was shared thousands of times, Dame Windsor called on people to run the 2019 Virgin Money London Marathon. Filmed in her home, she said: “I’m asking you to make a stand against dementia.”

Her star-studded team of runners, led by husband Scott, hope to raise £100,000 for dementia research. At the time of writing they were one quarter of the way there.

Jake Wood, known for his role as Max Branning in ‘EastEnders’, said: “Barbara is such a wonderful special friend to me and this friendship has inspired me to join the Dementia Revolution. I hope the public side with us as Barbara’s Revolutionaries and help us raise lots of money to power dementia research towards a cure.”

Tanya Franks, known for playing Rainie Cross, said her 86-year-old step-father is also living with Alzheimer’s. “Every three minutes someone develops dementia in the UK, which is staggering, but currently not enough is being done to tackle it,” she said.

Dementia Revolution

It’s thought 225,000 people in the UK will develop dementia this year – that’s one person every three minutes.

Kellie Shirley, who played Carly Wicks in ‘EastEnders’, said: “I’ve previously worked in nursing homes and my mother is a specialist dementia nurse, so I’ve seen on a personal level just how much dementia affects people’s lives.

“Barbara really is an inspirational woman. I’ve known her for 15 years now and she was my mentor when we worked together. I’m so proud to have joined the Dementia Revolution for Barbara and for all the other people that this is going to benefit. That will keep me going when it gets tough.”

Hilary Evans, chief executive of Alzheimer’s Research UK, said she hopes to see a record number of runners pounding the pavement on behalf of dementia research. 

“Dame Barbara’s story has already resonated with so many people across the country who are living with the realities of dementia,” she said. “And we hope her team of Revolutionaries will help to raise the profile of the condition, inspire others to run for such a worthwhile cause and raise thousands of pounds to keep our scientists working towards a cure.”

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