Barbara Windsor’s husband Scott Mitchell reveals why he’s found running so therapeutic
Scott Mitchell will be celebrating his 56th birthday today by running 26 miles around London. It’s not the usual way he would choose to spend his birthday, but he’s looking forward to it all the same because Scott – who’s married to Dame Barbara Windsor – is running to raise vital funds for dementia charities.
Taking part in a marathon was not something Scott ever imagined himself doing. ‘It’s the first time I have really been a runner. I’m not exactly in the throes of youth,’ he jokes. ‘I never thought I’d run a marathon. My initial thought was total terror. ‘I thought ‘what on earth have you signed up for?’
But he never imagined himself caring for his beloved wife either. Yet when life throws unexpected challenges your way, Scott, like so many other dementia carers, has learnt to deal with them as best he can.
Barbara, 81, was diagnosed with dementia back in 2014 and Scott has cared for her ever since, only going public about her condition last year when he felt the time was right.
Fitting in enough time to train for a marathon was never going to be easy, but he was determined to find a way because the cause he’s running for – Dementia Revolution – is so close to his heart.
Dementia Revolution, a campaign by Alzheimer’s Society and Alzheimer’s Research UK, aims to raise £3.5m to power the most ambitious dementia research endeavour the UK has ever seen – the UK Dementia Research Institute. The money will fund 700 researchers in six centres across three nations, working tirelessly to find better treatments and a cure – revolutionising dementia research.
And when he started training back in January, Scott discovered something surprising. His gruelling training programme was far more enjoyable than he’d ever imagined. In fact, it’s proved to be a great stress reliever.
‘After a few weeks of going out there, I developed a real love for it. It’s a real release,’ he says. ‘I can hear myself think and argue with myself. I can digest what’s going on with things. It’s a revelation. I’m loving it.’
It seems that Scott, like so many other carers, has found a way to claw back some vital time for himself on the dementia journey. ‘I’ve made time for my training and find it really helps me clear my head. It’s been hard at times, but you just have to persevere and remember why you’re doing it.
‘I have enjoyed running much more than I thought I would and I’m only disappointed I didn’t discover it sooner.’
Best of all, he’s had some amazingly supportive friends helping him every step of the way. For when Barbara’s pals from EastEnders heard what Scott was doing, they decided to join him. Together, they formed Barbara’s Revolutionaries.
When Scott pounds the pavements today, he won’t be running alone. EastEnders cast members past and present will be with him, including Jake Wood (who plays Max Branning), Adam Woodyatt (Ian Beale), Emma Barton (Honey Mitchell), Kelly Shirley (Carly Wicks), Tanya Franks (Rainie Cross), Jamie Borthwick (Jay Brown), Natalie Cassidy (Sonia Fowler) and Jane Slaughter (Queen Vic barmaid Tracey).
Barbara’s Revolutionaries have already raised more than £90,000 and money is still flooding in – including a few hefty cheques from celebrities such as Elton John – and the group has been bowled over by everyone’s generosity.
‘As the oldest person in the group, I’m surprised at how much I’ve progressed,’ Scott adds. ‘For me it is more about completing the marathon, no matter what the time, to show my support for Barbara and all the 850,000 other people living with dementia across the country.’
So will he enjoy his unusual birthday celebrations today? ‘It will be a very special day for me,’ he says. ‘If I complete this, and I’m praying that I do, it’ll be the only time in my life I ever achieve anything like this. I’m going to try and enjoy it as much as I can. I’m nervous, but I know the atmosphere will be incredible and thinking about Barbara will hopefully get me round when things start to hurt.’
We’re sure it will. As Scott’s discovered, it’s amazing what you can put your mind to when you think it might help someone you love.
To make a donation to Barbara’s Revolutionaries go here