Scott Mitchell and Tanya Franks ‘bonded over dementia fundraising’ before romance

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Dame Barbara Windsor's widow Scott Mitchell is said to have found a bond with his new partner Tanya Franks while they were fundraising for dementia together.

Scott, 60, lost wife Barbara in 2020 following her battle with Alzheimer's disease and now he is beginning to heal his heartbreak with a new romance – with another EastEnders star.

Tanya, 55, played Rainie Cross who was Tanya Branning's (Jo Joyner) sister in the BBC One soap for a few short stints between 2007 and 2015, but joined Albert Square full time in 2018 until her character left in 2022.

She had developed a friendship with Barbara, who was 83 when she died, and had been part of Babs' Army – the nickname for Scott and his band of Barbara's friends and co-stars who took on fundraising challenges for dementia care and treatment.

In fact, Tanya ran the London Marathon alongside Scott in 2019 to raise money for dementia charities, with a group of other EastEnders stars including Adam Woodyatt.

Tanya had her own personal reasons for the cause being close to her heart, as she explained her stepdad had been diagnosed with dementia and her mum was his carer.

Barbara was diagnosed with dementia in 2014, but did not go public with the news for another four years and was supported by devoted Scott throughout her final years.

Now, Scott has told The Sun of his relationship with Tanya: "Life feels really good right now and we are enjoying some special time together."

A source also told the newspaper: “His and Barbara’s friends are delighted he’s found someone to share his life with. It’s fairly early days but Scott is cautiously now looking forward to the future. They made the decision to update their wider circles while on holiday in Greece and everyone was over the moon."

The source added that the new couple, who went public on a holiday in Greece, are "taking things slowly" but there's "so much friendship and respect".

After Barbara's death, Tanya posted a photo of them together paying tribute to her and wrote: "Barbara and me discussing which cake to eat first! Today started with a tribute on @bbcmorninglive and then 14 regional radios with @alzheimersresearchuk My last two years spending time with our dear Dame has been beautiful. #rip".

Barbara starred in EastEnders in 1994 and left when her character Peggy Mitchell, the Queen Vic's landlady, was killed off in 2016.

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