Natalie Cassidy has said thinking of Dame Barbara Windsor’s smile will spur her on to finish the London Marathon.
The EastEnders actress is taking part in Barbara’s Revolutionaries, an all-star team of friends and former colleagues of the 81-year-old who are running to raise money for Dementia Revolution.
Dame Barbara was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2014.
Cassidy, who plays Sonia Fowler in the long-running soap, said: “I feel so privileged and honoured to be part of Barbara’s Revolutionaries.
“I started in EastEnders when I was 10 years old, in 1993, and then Barbara joined around the same time.
“Barbara taught me to be professional, to be on time, to know your lines.
“When I think about Barbara, it’s how she lights a room up, and she’d come into work and whenever she was there, you’d up your game. And there aren’t many people left like that anymore.”
Dementia Revolution is a year-long campaign formed by dementia charities Alzheimer’s Society and Alzheimer’s Research UK, for the marathon’s Charity of the Year.
EastEnders cast members Adam Woodyatt (Ian Beale), Jake Wood (Max Branning), Emma Barton (Honey Mitchell), Kelly Shirley (Carly Wicks), Tanya Franks (Rainie Cross), Jamie Borthwick (Jay Brown) and Jane Slaughter (Queen Vic barmaid Tracey) are all set to run in honour of the Carry On star.
The team hope to raise £100,000 by running the Virgin Money London Marathon on April 28.
As of Wednesday, they had raised more than £79,396.
Cassidy said: “I’ve never done any running as such before this, so for me this is a big thing, but I didn’t really have any hesitation about it.
“If I hit any sort of wall as people like to say, I think my family, thinking about them at the end and thinking about the money we’ve raised for the charity…
“And I’m just going to think about Barbara and her smile and I know how proud she will be of all of us.
“And you know, that for me, it will keep me going. We really hope that this money will make a difference.
“Let’s just hope to beat it one day.”
Natalie Cassidy can be sponsored at uk.virginmoneygiving.com/Barbarasrevolutionaries.
Dementia Revolution is a year-long joint campaign by the Alzheimer’s Society and Alzheimer’s Research UK. To find out more visit dementiarevolution.org.