Kellie Shirley gives us the inside track on the EastEnders stars London Marathon training for Barbara Windsor and Dementia Revolution
Kellie Shirley has been a close friend of Barbara Windsor’s since she played Carly Wicks on EastEnders from 2006 to 2008.
This Sunday, alongside former EastEnders co-stars Adam Woodyatt, Jake Wood, Emma Barton, Natalie Cassidy, Tanya Franks, Jamie Borthwick and Jane Slaughter, Kellie is taking part in the London Marathon to help raise awareness and funds for dementia research.
Calling themselves Barbara’s Revolutionaries in honour of Dame Barbara, who played Peggy Mitchell on the soap, they hope to raise much-needed funds for Dementia Revolution – a year-long joint campaign by Alzheimer’s Society and Alzheimer’s Research UK.
Barbara, 81, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2014. Since then the Carry On star and her husband Scott Mitchell have been coping with her decline while also raising awareness about the disease.
Kellie has already run two London marathons in her time which, in our eyes, makes her eminently qualified to tell us more about her EastEnders pals’ training!
Here we quiz Kellie, 37, for more…
Kellie, you’ve two London marathons under your belt. You sound like the one to watch!
Kellie Shirley: “I’m really not! After the last marathon I thought no way am I going to do this again – it’s unnatural to run 26.2 miles! But when Barbara and Scott asked, I thought, go on then. It seemed like a good reason to run. Hopefully we can raise loads of hard cash for this amazing charity.”
Just for fun, can you talk us through everyone’s training?
Adam Woodyatt, better known as Ian Beale?
KS: “Adam has done the marathon before when he walked it in 7 hours. He won’t mind me saying, he’s not a runner!”
Jake Wood, who plays Walford wooer, Max Branning?
KS: “Jake ran it 20 years ago and this is his first marathon since. He’s into his boxing and very fit, so he won’t have any problems.”
KS: “Jamie is very athletic and the one to watch. He’s hurt his knee but I reckon he’ll get caught up in the day!”
Emma Barton, who stars as sweet hearted Honey Mitchell?
KS: “Emma is a really good friend of mine and has been training really hard but she’s had an injury, unfortunately.”
Tanya Franks, also know as complex Rainie Cross?
KS: “I’ve worked with Tanya before [EastEnders] and we’ve been running together. This is her first marathon but she’s fit!”
Jane Slaughter AKA Tracey, the quiet barmaid?
KS: “She’s not quiet in real life, like Barbara she lights up a room! Jane was a ballerina before becoming a supporting artist, so she’s fit.”
Natalie Cassidy, firm favourite Sonia Fowler?
KS: “Natalie has the running bug. She’s like Forrest Gump! Everybody’s training around their filming schedules. Jane, Tanya and Nat run between takes.”
Scott Mitchell, Barbara’s husband…
KS: Scott’s caught the running bug too! I think it’s been a really positive thing for him.”
And last, but not least, how is your training going?
KS: “I’ve not run a marathon since I had my twins, Louie and Pearl, and need a wee every five minutes! I’m filming series two of In The Long Run with Idris Elba and anytime I can, I run around Twickenham Studios with a great big 80s perm!”
Why is running the London marathon this weekend extra special?
KS: “Barbara is a massive influence on my life. She was my mentor when I was at EastEnders and we’ve remained close friends.
“We’re hoping to raise £100, 000 for Dementia Revolution. It’s massively underfunded and so many people are living with dementia. They need more money in the pot, because researchers reckon they’re close to finding a way to slow it down.”
To donate support the Dementia Revolution and Barbara’s Revolutionaries visit: https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/Barbarasrevolutionaries
Dementia Revolution is a yearlong joint campaign by Alzheimer’s Society and Alzheimer’s Research UK, to find out more visit dementiarevolution.org
Main picture: Anthony Harvey/REX/Shutterstock; Kellie with Scott and Tanya: Ken McKay/ITV/REX/Shutterstock