Husband of Julie Goodyear talks of watching her 'slowly fading away' following dementia diagnosis

21 March 2024, 09:42 | Updated: 21 March 2024, 11:30

Goodyear played landlady Bet Lynch on Coronation Street for more than 25 years
Goodyear played landlady Bet Lynch on Coronation Street for more than 25 years. Picture: Antony Thompson/Getty Images

By Flaminia Luck

The husband of Coronation Street star Julie Goodyear, 81, has spoken about the pain of watching his fun-loving wife "slowly fading away" following her dementia diagnosis.

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Scott Brand has shared his experience of the condition in conjunction with a new Alzheimer's Society campaign, featuring a TV advert voiced by Colin Firth.

Dementia is the name for a group of symptoms associated with an ongoing decline of brain function, according to the NHS. The condition can affect memory, thinking skills and other mental abilities.

The Long Goodbye focuses on the harsh reality of the disease's progression which causes loved ones to "die again, and again, and again".

It is a theme echoed by Brand and his experiences. He said: "I miss the fun-loving wife that Julie had always been - the larger-than-life personality that brightened up everywhere she went, and the smile that lit up every room," he said.

Julie Goodyear is pictured outside The Rovers Return on the set of 'Coronation Street'
Julie Goodyear is pictured outside The Rovers Return on the set of 'Coronation Street'. Picture: Getty Images

"All of this is now slowly fading away and it's extremely painful for me to watch this deterioration.

"Julie now struggles recognising people and everyone she meets is called 'Scott'.

"Not being able to spontaneously go out as husband and wife, holding hands as we stroll along, going for meals together and going shopping - all these losses for me symbolise the Long Goodbye."

Read more: ‘Dramatic’ decline in birth rates mean world’s population could fall for the first time since the Black Death

She was renowned for her trademark leopard-print clothing and glamorous looks both on and off screen, but Brand said dementia has caused a lack of interest in her appearance.

"Julie has always been extremely glamorous, going nowhere without her make up.

"But now the lipsticks and make-up go unworn, and clothes are no longer of interest, especially the leopard print," he said.

JULIE GOODYEAR PLAYS BET LYNCH AND ENJOYS SOME BANTER WITH THE DOORMAN AT THE GRAND HOTEL, BRIGHTON AS FILMING FOR A CORONATION STREET TV SPECIAL IN 1998.
Goodyear was renowned for her trademark leopard-print clothing. Picture: Alamy

Goodyear married Brand, her fourth husband, in 2007.

Brand said after the diagnosis, which he announced publicly last June, he initially "refused to accept any support" before realising "I couldn't do it by myself".

"I had to give up work to become Julie's full-time carer," he said, "I wasn't coping and needed to seek support.

"Caring for Julie is my priority, but my health was being affected and as a lone carer I felt it was 'killing me'. "Julie had always dealt with the finances but now she cannot even recognise the value of money.

"I was suddenly thrown into having to sort out all the household affairs, something Julie had always managed with ease and perfection.

"It was like being thrown into a new world of having to do everything by myself.

"I would advise anyone going through this journey to accept help straight away."

Read more: Coronation Street star Tina O'Brien 'caught in the middle of brawl with teenage girls outside her home'

Brand said Dementia Advisers provided through Alzheimer's Society helped him to navigate the condition, saying: "I couldn't have managed without it".

"Without this support I really don't know how I would have coped - it was a lifeline when we both needed one and continues to be so," he added.

Alzheimer's Society's new TV advert shows a son delivering the eulogy at his mother's wake, where he remembers numerous moments in her life where part of her died, including when she forgot his name.

Kate Lee, chief executive officer of Alzheimer's Society, said: "This campaign seeks to tell the unvarnished truth about the devastation caused by dementia and it is very much informed by people affected by the condition.

"The loved ones of people with dementia often describe it as a 'living grief' as, bit by bit, the disease's relentless progression causes part of the person to die...again and again and again. But there is hope.

"Alzheimer's Society, through its support services, is there for people affected again and again as they face the grim reality of the long goodbye."

The widower of Dame Barbara Windsor has been appointed "people's champion" of the UK's dementia mission on Wednesday 20 March,

It was set up in her memory after she died from the disease in 2020 aged 83.

Read more: 'If men want to get together in a club, it's up to them': Ben Wallace says Garrick Club members should be 'left alone'

Scott Mitchell says he's "honoured" to carry on his wife's campaigning work helping people with the condition.

His appointment comes alongside £6 million in funding to boost clinical trials and innovation - he's told LBC News dementia should be a top government priority.

The ‘Dame Barbara Windsor Dementia Mission’ was launched in August 2022, in honour of Dame Barbara and the millions of other people and their loved ones who have had their lives ruined by dementia.

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