Barbara Windsor 'struggles to remember friends' names'

Ben Arnold
Dame Barbara Windsor (Credit: AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

Barbara Windsor is struggling to remember names of long-time friends, according to former EastEnders cast-mate Kellie Shirley.

The 82-year-old former Carry On star has been battling dementia since being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2014.

Speaking to the Sunday Express, Shirley said: “A massive part of being an actor is remembering things. Your memories are such a big part of who you are.

Read more: Barbara Windsor now needs 24-hour care

“That’s why I feel for Barbara. She remembers so much about the past as clear as day yet she won’t remember my name.

“We still have funny moments. It’s not bleak all the time, but it is hardcore. It’s a cruel disease that robs you of your memories.

Kellie Shirley (Credit: BBC)

“Any time I’m in town for an audition I’ll meet up with Barbara and Scott [Mitchell, Windsor’s husband] for a cup of tea. I’ve always done that.

“|I’m training with Scott so we meet up on a Friday, run together and catch up. I find running so boring so chatting makes the time go faster.”

Read more: EastEnders fans anger over Barbara Windsor being left off DVD cover

Shirley, who plays Carly Wicks in the long-running BBC soap, is joining Mitchell and a host of others, including Ian Beale actor Adam Woodyatt and Jake Wood (Max Branning), in running the London Marathon next month.

Jane Slaughter, Kellie Shirley, Jamie Borthwick, Scott Mitchell, Emma Barton and Tanya Franks will run as Barbara’s Revolutionaries (Credit: Dementia Revolution/PA)

The team, called Barbara’s Revolutionaries, is hoping to raise £100,000 for Alzheimer’s research via the charity Dementia Revolution.

Mitchell recently told the Daily Star on Sunday: “The heartbreaking thing is a cure is possible.

“They believe in six years a cure or at least major breakthrough could be found with the right funding.

Dame Barbara Windsor and husband Scott Mitchell with a portrait of herself by Welsh artist Dan Llywelyn Hall, at L’Escargot in Soho, London (Credit: PA)

“That is what we are aiming for. We accept it would be for future generations.

“We both know it will be too late for Barbara but she still wants to do what she can to help find a cure. We both do.”

Mitchell revealed last year that Dame Barbara sometimes forgets who he is.

You can sponsor Barbara’s Revolutionaries, and donate to Dementia Revolution, here.