Barbara Windsor makes rare TV appearance

Dame Barbara Windsor sent a special Christmas message to Good Morning Britain on Thursday as she made a rare appearance amid her dementia battle. 

She said: ‘Merry Christmas and a happy new year to all the viewers and everyone at Good Morning Britain from us and everyone at The Alzheimer’s Society.’

The 82-year-old’s husband Scott Mitchell, 56, spoke of her self-titled award at the inaugural GMB 1 Million Minutes Awards ceremony.  

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Lovely: Barbara Windsor, 82, made a rare TV appearance on GMB on Thursday amid her dementia battle with her husband Scott Mitchell, 56, as she sent out a Christmas message

Lovely: Barbara Windsor, 82, made a rare TV appearance on GMB on Thursday amid her dementia battle with her husband Scott Mitchell, 56, as she sent out a Christmas message 

Barbara was diagnosed with degenerative condition Alzheimer's in 2014.  

Updating on her health, Scott said: ‘The lovely thing is, she's still got that lovely sense of fun within her. She still loves to sit there and giggle. 

‘I make her laugh, she makes me laugh. Obviously the confusion is very unsettling for her.’

As a recent poll found loneliness is having a huge impact on the NHS, Scott said: ‘We've had some really consistent friends and family who have been there from the moment they knew about it. 

Staying strong: Barbara was diagnosed with degenerative condition Alzheimer's in 2014

Staying strong: Barbara was diagnosed with degenerative condition Alzheimer's in 2014

‘But I do understand, also people have busy lives and sometimes feel a bit awkward.

‘People who haven't been don't know what to expect so they don't know what to say either. I do understand that. 

‘But it's so important, which is why your 1 Million Minutes campaign is so fantastic.

‘The difference it makes to have a visit, just for that hour, not just for the person living with that illness but for the carer as well. It changes the day.’

Scott said: ‘When I do go out and socialise, I've forgotten what a normal social life is. I think that's the same for many carers as well, because you do become isolated from that.

Support: As a recent poll found loneliness is having a huge impact on the NHS, Scott said: 'We've had some really consistent friends and family who have been there from the moment they knew about it'

Support: As a recent poll found loneliness is having a huge impact on the NHS, Scott said: ‘We've had some really consistent friends and family who have been there from the moment they knew about it’

‘I don't say that in any way to feel sorry for myself, or to make it sound like Barbara's a burden – never – it's just the reality of it.’

Asked if he feels guilt when he goes out without his wife, he said: ‘I still struggle with that. I struggled with it when I first decided that we'd have carers come in the house. I was worried about how she'd be if I wasn't there.

‘If I do catch myself joining in, laughing and joking, I do have those pangs of guilt.’

He continued: ‘It hits her at different times. During the confusion, obviously we get the repetitive questions, really not knowing where the house is now.

‘Most of the time she knows me, she can just look at me straight in the eye and say, “Do you know where my husband Scott is?” They're really tough things. 

‘It doesn't matter how used to it you get in a way. Each time it happens it's like a body blow. Then she realises it and then she's a bit upset with herself that it's happened. 

‘So there is that sense of isolation for the person as well, they also sense that life is going on and they're not a part of it like they used to be.’

Scott spoke as Good Morning Britain announces the Dame Barbara Windsor Award at its inaugural 1 Million Minutes Awards.

Next January, for the first time, GMB will be holding a 1 Million Minutes Awards ceremony.

The awards, hosted by Kate Garraway and Ben Shephard, will be taking place on Thursday 23rd January 2020 at TV Centre studios and will include the special Dame Barbara Windsor Award.

The winner will be an individual who is a carer and is going above and beyond to help someone who is older. The nominated person themselves will have suffered loneliness through the work that they do and will be recognised for the selfless act.

Scott said: ‘Barbara and I were so honoured when we were told about GMB's 1 Million Minutes special award being named after Barbara.

Nice touch: EastEnders bosses are to pay tribute to Dame Barbara Windsor by naming Albert Square's newest baby arrival after her character Peggy Mitchell (pictured in character in a throwback soap still)

Nice touch: EastEnders bosses are to pay tribute to Dame Barbara Windsor by naming Albert Square’s newest baby arrival after her character Peggy Mitchell (pictured in character in a throwback soap still) 

‘Barbara takes great comfort knowing that although her own illness can be difficult at times, the fact we have brought awareness and can help others going forward is a wonderful thing and something she is very proud of.

‘And to know her name is being used this way to honour those people helping others with their generosity of spirit, is something we thank Good Morning Britain for from the bottom of our hearts.’

Since it began, Good Morning Britain's 1 Million Minutes campaign has encouraged viewers to pledge 60 minutes of their time to help a friend, family member or someone in their community who is lonely.

This can be done individually or by volunteering with one of the 1 Million Minutes charity partners. Now in its 4th year, to date viewers have pledged more than 128 million minutes.

This year’s theme is helping those who are lonely through loss, whether that’s bereavement, loss of a job, loss of memory or anything else. GMB are working alongside charities Alzheimer's Society, Grief Encounter, The Not Forgotten, The Prince's Trust – working with vulnerable young people to find them jobs and purpose, Silver Line and Re-engage.

There for her: Barbara's husband Scott has spoken about feelings 'pangs of guilt' while selflessly caring for his wife

There for her: Barbara’s husband Scott has spoken about feelings ‘pangs of guilt’ while selflessly caring for his wife 

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