BARBARA Windsor's devoted husband supported his wife through her agonising dementia battle until the very end.
Scott Mitchell revealed the devastating news the national legend had tragically passed away yesterday aged 83.
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The 57-year-old had stood by his beloved wife of 20 years as the cruel disease slowly took hold.
And he revealed how he was reduced to tears watching the EastEnders icon lose her independence.
Speaking to The Sun this year, Scott told how his precious "Bar" was "cross" at the idea of having to move into a care home as her Alzheimer's worsened.
He said: "I feel I’m on an emotional rollercoaster.
"I walk around, trying to keep busy, then burst in to tears. It feels like a bereavement.
"It’s always been my biggest fear, that one day I would have to take her somewhere and she’d be thinking, ‘Why would he do this to me?’
“That fear has become a reality. It’s something I never wanted.”
The move came at the end of a bitter battle with dementia that saw the former pin-up girl slowly forget her incredible life.
Scott bravely made the decision to reveal Barbara's four-year struggle in 2018 as it was becoming increasingly difficult to keep it a secret.
He candidly opened up about photos dotted around the living room at their Stoke Newington home that showed the loving couple over the years.
Gentle reminders were placed on a noticeboard underneath, reading: "“Scott and Barbara have been together for 25 years, married for 18” and “Scott loves you".
Brave Barbara made a personal video for the Alzheimer’s Society asking for help “to find a cure for people living with this disease . . . people like me.”
The humour and loving nature that helped propel the actress to stardom was still evident in Barbara's wide smile – and a cheeky kiss with Boris Johnson as they discussed social care.
But behind closed doors, the agonising disease had slowly began gripping Barbara in a way Scott had feared would never come.
Recalling a devastating incident previously, Scott said: "About two weeks ago, she’d had a bath and I was drying her back, when suddenly she looked at me with almost fearful apprehension.
“She said, ‘Who are you? What are you doing here?’ and I replied, ‘It’s me Bar, it’s Scott, your husband.’
“She snapped out of it almost instantly but then became very distressed and cried, ‘Oh Scott, it’s my memory, I’m so sorry.’
“I sobbed and sobbed. Even though that moment hadn’t lasted long, it hurt. And it’s terrifying, for both of us.”
Scott and Barbara wed in April 2000 – eight years after they first met when she was 55 and he was 30.
Their difference in age led to Scott being branded a gold-digger but he brushed off the claims, saying: "Little did they know that after the breakdown of Bar’s second marriage, she was £1million in debt and we were talking about her coming to live in my two-bed flat.”
Barbara said meeting him was the "best thing that ever happened to her" after her stormy 20-year marriage to East End criminal Ronnie Knight.
Her pal Larry Lamb also praised the union, saying today strong Scott was "exactly the father figure she needed".
Their wedding at the Dorchester Hotel had just three witnesses with loved-up Barbara revealing she couldn't stop crying with happiness.
After her diagnosis, the couple spent their evenings snuggled up on the sofa watching EastEnders.
It was the soap where Barbara spent 23 years as landlady Peggy Mitchell that helped bring back the old "Bar".
Scott said: "We watch every EastEnders episode. There’s always instant recognition when the theme tune comes on.
"Bar comes back then, although the first thing she usually says is, ‘Oh I haven’t seen this for ages’, even though we watch religiously.
“She’ll point at the Queen Vic and say things like, ‘I used to work behind that bar’, but she doesn’t always recognise the picture of her character Peggy behind the bar.
“I usually point it out and say, ‘Look, there’s my wife in the pub’, and she’ll say, ‘Where? where?’ then eventually, ‘Oh yeah. There I am’.
“There are plenty of people that she recognises instantly — Gillian Taylforth, Adam Woodyatt. But it’s so sad to see her being slowly taken away.”
The couple still managed to share laughs despite Barbara's increasingly frequent trips to hospital.
Scott revealed: “Barbara lives in her own moment and then, unfortunately, that moment disappears very quickly. But there are still glimpses of the old Barbara, like when her good friend Christopher Biggins comes round and suddenly she is so sharp.
“For five or ten minutes she’ll come out with things just like the old wisecracking Barbara, and I love that.
“I love seeing those glimpses of her, and I love the fact that Barbara and I still have a real laugh.”
Scott’s heartbreaking tribute to his ‘Bar’
"It is with deep sadness that I can confirm that my darling wife Barbara passed away at 8.35pm on Thursday 10th December at a London Care Home.
"Her passing was from Alzheimer's/dementia and Barbara eventually died peacefully and I spent the last seven days by her side.
"Myself, her family and friends will remember Barbara with love, a smile and affection for the many years of her love, fun, friendship and brightness she brought to all our lives and the entertainment she gave to so many thousands of others during her career.
"Barbara's final weeks were typical of how she lived her life. Full of humour, drama and a fighting spirit until the end.
"It was not the ending that Barbara or anyone else living with this very cruel disease deserve. I will always be immensely proud of Barbara's courage, dignity and generosity dealing with her own illness and still trying to help others by raising awareness for as long as she could.
"I will always be immensely proud of Barbara's courage, dignity and generosity dealing with her own illness and still trying to help others by raising awareness for as long as she could.
"Dementia/Alzheimer's remains the UK's number one killer.
"Although in challenging times, I urge the Prime Minister, his government and other parties to be true to their previous promises and invest more into dementia/Alzheimer's research and care.
"Thank you to all the doctors, nurses and carers who are angels at the care home for your kindness and care to Barbara and I throughout her stay with you. You are my heroes.
"And my gratitude to our family, friends and everyone in the media and the general public for all the good wishes and warm support that has been shown to Barbara over the last few years during her illness. Barbara deeply appreciated that."
"May you rest in peace now my precious Bar. I've lost my wife, my best friend and soul mate and my heart or life will never feel the same without you."
But the strain of Barbara's battle began to take its toll on Scott earlier this year and he was forced to call in carers for his own mental and physical wellbeing.
And he said "fear became reality" when Barbara was forced to leave their home on advice from her neurologist.
Defiant Scott still pushed on and supported his wife – making sure he checked out several care homes before landing on one that "just felt right".
And he spent his time raising vital funds for research in to dementia and raising awareness of the heartbreaking disease.
Scott said: "There’s no timeline. I know people whose families have cared for their loved one for 15 years and others that can deteriorate very quickly, but what we’re dealing with here is the long goodbye.
“It’s a very hard thing to watch the person you adore just being slowly, slowly stripped away. Unfortunately, it’s not a battle she’s going to win.
“Whatever happens in the future I know that I’m lucky to have shared my life with such an amazing lady and I will always have her with me.
“I’ve got no choice. I’ve got her name tattooed on my arm so Barbara will always be here.”
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