Former EastEnders star Harry Reid has shared an emotional message for “national treasure” Dame Barbara Windsor in response to her Alzheimer’s diagnosis.
Reid played Dame Barbara’s character Peggy Mitchell’s grandson Ben Mitchell in the soap for four years until earlier this year, working alongside the veteran actress in 2016 until her departure in May that year.
The 25-year-old actor wrote on Instagram: “Babs, I hope now that everyone knows, you can feel at some sort of ease. You are our national treasure and now we can all stand by yours and Scotts side. Dont be frightened, we love you.
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Babs, I hope now that everyone knows, you can feel at some sort of ease. You are our national treasure and now we can all stand by yours and Scotts side. Dont be frightened, we love you. I had the pleasure of working with you and hold the honour of calling you my friend. Take care sweetheart. H xxx #barbarawindsor
“I had the pleasure of working with you and hold the honour of calling you my friend. Take care sweetheart. H xxx.”
He also shared a picture of the two of them and their colleagues together in a scene from the BBC One soap.
Dame Barbara, 80, first learned she had Alzheimer’s disease in 2014, but her husband Scott Mitchell revealed this week that she had been keeping it a secret until now, as her symptoms have grown worse in recent weeks.
Mr Mitchell, 55, told The Sun on Friday that she has sometimes forgotten they are married since the diagnosis.
He told the newspaper: “She suddenly has no recollection of our history.
“She’ll look at her wedding ring and say, ‘Are we married?’ But that’s the thing about this cruel disease, isn’t it?”
Since news of Dame Barbara’s diagnosis broke, friends and former colleagues have rushed to lend their support to the actress, who has had a glittering career in showbusiness for decades.
In an interview with the Daily Mirror, Dame Barbara’s friend, the actor Christopher Biggins, said she was “an actress of the people”.
He told the newspaper: “Everyone wants a piece of her, and she is very happy to give it.
“The only problem is that in the future, and sometimes already I think, she won’t understand why. She may forget her whole glorious career, why she is so famous, and all the people whose lives she touched.
“But if that’s the case then it’s down to us, her dear friends, to help her amazing husband, Scott, to remind her.”