The EastEnders cast paid tribute to the late Barbara Windsor as they competed in the London Marathon for Alzheimer’s Research UK on Sunday.
Stars including Natalie Cassidy, Lacey Turner, Adam Woodyatt and Tanya Franks, as well as Barbara’s widower Scott, participated under the name Babs’ Army.
Barbara passed away in December 2020 at the age of 83 in a London care home, after a long battle with Alzheimer’s.
Posing for a selfie with Virgin Radio presenter Chris Evans, Natalie – who plays Sonia Fowler in the soap – looked raring to go in the morning.
She captioned the Instagram post: ‘The best person to see on marathon day @chrisevanstfi. Let’s do this! We are all so lucky to be doing this today @babsarmy.’
Well done! The EastEnders cast paid tribute to the late Barbara Windsor as they competed in the London Marathon for Alzheimer’s Research UK on Sunday
Tribute: Barbara passed away in December 2020 at the age of 83 in a London care home, after a long battle with Alzheimer’s (pictured in 2010)
The actress received a kiss on each cheek from Lacey Turner – who plays Stacey Slater – and Heather Peace – who plays Eve Unwin in the soap.
Natalie and Adam also posed with Paralympic athlete Richard Whitehead in a post shared to her Story.
The gang appeared to be in high spirits as they enjoyed a pre-marathon meal, however just two days earlier Jake Wood was forced to pull out.
The ex-EastEnders star, who met Barbara on the soap, took to social media late on Friday to reveal he had been suffering from a ‘bad chest infection’.
Confirming the news in a video message he revealed that he was ‘gutted’ but was following doctor’s orders.
He told his followers: ‘Unfortunately, I’ll be unable to run the London Marathon [on] Sunday due to medical advice’.
‘I’ve got a very bad chest infection, I’ve had it for the last couple of weeks. I’ve been told in no uncertain terms to not run.’
Before adding: ‘I’m gutted to not be running it with all my fellow Bab’s Army, raising money for Alzheimer’s Research UK.
Gang: (L-R) Adam Woodyatt, Tanya Franks Scott Mitchell and Sam Woodyatt were in the team
On the move: Tanya and Scott are pictures beginning the run
‘I’ll be really sad to not be with them on the day.’
Racing to the comments section Barbara’s widower Scott said: ‘Jake you have been a warrior all through training! We are so sorry to lose you from the team!! Your health comes first but just fitted for you! Thanks for all you have done this far! Love you mate!’.
While Adam, who played Ian Beale, wrote: ‘Gutted for you Bud. Tough decision but the right one’.
And Rainie Cross actress Tanya Franks commented: ‘Jake we will miss you massively, and know that we all love you and are wishing you well!!!’
Emma Barton, who plays Honey Mitchell in the soap, agreed writing: ‘Oh Jake!! Get well soon matey.. gutted for you.. but you have to look after yourself.. loves ya’
Ahead of the announcement, Jake revealed the stars all knew and loved Barbara and see the marathon as a fitting tribute.
He said: ‘We all knew Barbara and loved her. She was an amazing person. It’s an honour to be doing this in her memory.’
Jake added in his interview to The Mirror: ‘She ruled the roost on set but was just so gracious and welcoming with it.’
Pals: The actress received a kiss on each cheek from Lacey Turner – who plays Stacey Slater – and Heather Peace – who plays Eve Unwin in the soap
Happy: The gang appeared to be in high spirits as they enjoyed a pre-marathon meal
Get ready! Posing for a selfie with Virgin Radio presenter Chris Evans, Natalie – who plays Sonia Fowler in the soap – looked raring to go in the morning
Inspirational: She captioned the Instagram post: ‘The best person to see on marathon day @chrisevanstfi. Let’s do this! We are all so lucky to be doing this today @babsarmy’
The star also revealed that she was an inspiration to the cast and that she gave him advice and guidance, taking him under her wing.
Despite the huge undertaking of a marathon, Jake was still planning to be in the final night of the current run of 2:22 A Ghost Story alongside Cheryl – it’s unknown if he will now still appear.
He said: ‘Originally I was taking the day off… obviously, because the marathon is a big thing. But the rest of the cast were a bit upset I wasn’t doing the show with them on the last night.’
Babs’ Army have been posting their training runs together on Instagram in the lead-up to the marathon.
It comes after Scott shared the moving words his late wife told him shortly before her death two years ago.
The actor reflected on his grief in an interview with Best magazine and said it is now time for him to think about his future as Barbara would have wanted him to.
Candidly discussing his two-year grief battle, Scott admitted that it is ‘getting better’ and shared the sweet words Barbara shared with him before she died.
He told Best: ‘Before she died, Barbara told me to cry, be broken-hearted, then have the best time. Knowing Barbara, she would have remarried a nice 25-year-old by now!’
Ill health: Just two days earlier, Jake Wood was forced to pull out
Support: His fellow runners rushed to the comment section to share their support
Scott went on to say that although Barbara will always be important to him, it is time to think about his future and said he is open to whatever comes next in life.
He said: ‘Now it’s time to think about me and my future. Barbara will always be a massive part of my life, but she would want me to move on.’
His latest comments come after Scott recently claimed people cruelly accused him of only using the Carry On legend, who was 26-years his senior, for her money.
Appearing on Good Morning Britain in December, Scott said Barbara was actually £1million in debt when the couple first met.
Scott, who began his relationship with the soap star when she was 63 and he was 27, said: ‘She had a million pound debt when we met. I must have been the worst gold digger in the world. Really got it wrong there didn’t I?’.
‘They all thought who’s this guy who’s this unknown actor. They thought it was me who ended the marriage [her second]. They called me a gold digger.’
Following Barbara’s death, Scott was left £4.6million in her will, with the star also donating to several charities.
The iconic actress was married three times in her life, first to Ronnie Knight in 1964 then to Stephen Hollings for nine years before divorcing in 1995.
Raising money: Ahead of the announcement, Jake revealed the stars all knew and loved Barbara and see the marathon as a fitting tribute (pictured with Barbara’s widower Scott Mitchell)
Scott went on to reflect on Barbara’s death saying: ‘It’s incredible. It’s two years tomorrow. I still think she’s gonna walk through the door.
‘It’s something deep inside me. I wake up some mornings thinking is she still okay’.
‘After 27 years I’m still in the early stages of grief and processing. I still think of the good times. That’s a really good thing for me to go back.
‘I lost my best friend. My other half. That’s what I lost. That’s why I still feel that sense now that she still is there with me. Sometimes feeling the loneliness that she’s not there any more’.
Scott went on to speak about his book entitled By Your Side: My Life Loving Barbara Windsor about his twenty-year marriage.
‘She [Barbara] predicted it [the book]. She said one day when I’m gone they’re gonna ask you to write a book. She said you must do it and you must be totally honest.
‘I learned a lot from Barbara about live and love.’
Last year, it emerged that she left £4.6million in her will but also donated £1,000 each to seven different charities, according to The Sun.
Training: Babs’ Army have been posting their training runs together on Instagram in the lead-up to the marathon (pictured: Natalie on a training run)
Tribute: Jake said he felt honoured to be running the London Marathon in memory of his friend Barbara with Babs’ Army (pictured on This Morning)
Barbara also left 85-year-old Anna Karen – who played Peggy Mitchell’s sister Aunt Sal in EastEnders – £1000.
The paper adds that £5,000 was left to Barbara’s sister-in-law Marsha Alexander and her husband Laurence. £2,000 went to her cousins Leslie Larsen and Julie Elliot.
The NSPCC, Breast Cancer Care, Help The Aged, Grand Order Of Lady Ratlings, National Osteoporisis Society, Headley Court (a wounded soldiers rehab centre) and Age UK made up the seven charities that Barbara left £1000 each to.
Scott was left the rest of Barbara’s £4.63million estate.
Barbara was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2014 and kept her fight with the illness private for four years.
Barbara’s final TV role was starring in her own biopic, which chronicled her humble beginnings in Shoreditch up to 1993, with Jaime Winstone and Samantha Spiro playing the star at different points in her life.
Life: It comes after Scott shared the moving words his late wife told him shortly before her death two years ago (pictured together in 2019)