Dementia battle: Boris praises Express as research gets cash boost in honour of Dame Babs

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The EastEnders star, 83, died in 2020, after battling Alzheimer’s. Mr Johnson also urged readers to join the “Babs’ Army” of clinical trial volunteers as he launched the Dame Barbara Windsor Dementia Mission. 

He said: “It’s thanks to the campaigning of Dame Barbara and the Express through your heartfelt crusade that the scale and pace of dementia research will now transform in the years to come, helping so many families across the UK.

“If we work together, I believe we can beat this disease. So if you are an Express reader with a history of dementia, we invite you to step up to our new Babs’ Army to help us fight back against this devastating condition. I am delighted that we can now honour Dame Barbara in such a fitting way.” 

The cash boost will see an extra £95m in ringfenced funding per year to increase the number of clinical trials and research studies into dementia.

The mission will be led by a new dementia taskforce, created using the blueprint of the highly successful Covid Vaccine Taskforce. It will bring together leading experts from industry, the NHS, academia and families living with dementia.

Volunteers, with or without a family history of dementia, are also being urged to join Babs’ Army by signing up to take part in clinical trials and help test preventative therapies. 

Dame Barbara’s husband Scott Mitchell said: “The first in 15 Prime Ministers and over 70 years to grasp the nettle and reform social care, I’m so pleased that Boris had the conviction to do this reform.

“Barbara would be so proud that she has had this legacy which will hopefully mean that families in the future won’t have to go through the same heart-breaking experience that she and I had to endure. I can’t stop thinking about her looking down with pride.”

Our campaign was launched in March and backed by both Alzheimer’s Society and Alzheimer’s Research UK. It won the support of eminent researchers, including pioneering geneticist Professor Sir John Hardy, who said the tools available to scientists today were “incredible, but they’re not cheap”.

The UK Dementia Research Institute’s director, Professor Bart De Strooper, threw his weight behind the campaign last week, urging ministers to “put your money where your mouth is”. He said last night: “This is an important step towards the dream of a world without dementia.

“To achieve that, we must invest heavily in the discovery research that uncovers what drives these diseases, whilst also innovating to support people with dementia today. We look forward to joining the taskforce to create a brighter future for everyone touched by dementia.”

Health Secretary Steve Barclay said: “I am extremely grateful for the efforts of Daily Express readers. We have listened and are united in our joint
determination to see a seismic shift in dementia care to help millions of affected individuals and their families.

“Our new dementia mission, backed by £95 million of government funding, marks a significant step towards a society where every person with this devastating disease can receive high-quality, compassionate care, from timely diagnosis through to end of life. I urge you to play your part and sign up to Babs’ Army today – we must work together to speed up our search for more preventative therapies for dementia and beat this cruel disease.”

Mark MacDonald, of Alzheimer’s Society, said: “This breakthrough is very welcome news for the 900,000 people with dementia in the UK and every researcher working tirelessly to advance dementia diagnosis and treatments.

“The stark reality is that dementia is the biggest killer in the UK and as there are no treatments yet to stop or slow it down.

“The Government’s promise to commit an additional £95m investment into dementia research and encourage more people to take part in clinical trials, is crucial to accelerate progress into game-changing therapies that will transform thousands of lives.”

Hilary Evans, chief executive at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “This marks an important step towards finding life-changing treatments for dementia and supporting our NHS to be able to deliver these new medicines to the people who need them when they become available.”

Volunteers can register here.

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