Belfast Telegraph

Dame Barbara moved by public reaction to her Alzheimer's news

By Brett Campbell

Dame Barbara Windsor has been heartened by the support from the public over her Alzheimer's diagnosis, a close friend has said.

Broadcaster and journalist Jane Moore, who revealed the actress had been diagnosed with the disease in an interview with her husband Scott Mitchell, said the former EastEnders star was having a "good day" after the news broke.

She told ITV's This Morning that she spoke to Dame Barbara and Mr Mitchell on her way to appear on the TV show, and added: "She's totally aware of what is happening today. She is watching now.

"And she's thrilled to bits there has been such a positive response from the media and from the public."

Moore, a close friend of Dame Barbara, said the TV and film star "sometimes repeats herself and gets a bit confused".

She added: "But she knows who she is. She knows her history and she knows what she has done."

Moore said she had known of the disease for about two to three years, as did many other friends of Dame Barbara, including David Walliams and Christopher Biggins.

She said of her interview, published in The Sun: "Scott, her husband, was adamant he didn't want that coming out. In the early days her symptoms were very mild. To a certain extent she protected herself by being in a bit of denial.

"The really sad thing about the interview... when I was interviewing him, he was so upset when he was talking to me.

"And it was a release but he felt so guilty because he felt he couldn't protect her any more. She was becoming housebound.

"Whenever they went out - and the public were like moths to a flame with Barbara and she loves them - he was really worried she was going to do something that might put it out there.

"He wanted to be in control of the situation, so he rang me last week and said: 'I can't protect her anymore. I want to tell people in a controlled way'."

Moore, also a panellist on Loose Women, said the positive outcome for revealing the battle with Alzheimer's was that the couple would now be able to go out more.

Dame Barbara (80) was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in 2014, but Mr Mitchell (55) revealed her symptoms had worsened in recent weeks.

Yesterday, on a visit to Northern Ireland, Dame Esther Rantzen praised Dame Barbara and her husband for speaking out.

"My heart goes out to Barbara whom I know well and admire greatly. She's been such a source of joy for so many generations," she said.

The Childline founder, who was in Belfast to promote the Silverline initiative which she launched in 2012, said the Carry On star's concealment of the devastating illness was understandable given her legendary status as an entertainer.

"Barbara is used to arriving at parties and giving everyone a huge lift and feeling of well-being," she added.

"That was important to her and I can absolutely understand that until she had to reveal it she didn't want to."

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