Tributes paid to Wendy Richard

'EastEnders' actress Wendy Richard – who starred in the soap for 22 years - is being hailed a "British institution" after she died of cancer yesterday

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Wendy Richard

Tributes paid to Wendy Richard

'EastEnders' actress Wendy Richard is being hailed a "British institution" after she died of cancer yesterday.

Tributes have flooded in for the 65-year-old actress, who died in a London Clinic with her husband beside her.

Wendy - best known for her 22 years playing Pauline Fowler in 'EastEnders', from its first show in 1985 - was diagnosed with an aggressive and terminal form of cancer in October last year. She had previously beaten breast cancer twice.

Wendy married John Burns - her fourth husband, whom she had lived with since 1996 – shortly afterward.

John, 45, was being comforted by Wendy's 'EastEnders' family last night.

Leading tributes for the star, Bill Treacher, 78, who played Wendy's on-screen husband Arthur Fowler said: "She was a stickler, a true professional. Wendy and I worked together for 11 years — and in all that time we never quarrelled. I am truly saddened to hear this news."

Todd Carty, who was her son in the soap, Mark Fowler, said: "Wendy was a fantastic lady and a real friend. She had a heart of gold and was without doubt a British institution.

"I will cherish her memory. It was a pleasure to work with her and an honour to know her."

'EastEnders' cast member and friend, Natalie Cassidy – Sonia Jackson/Fowler in the soap - said: "I loved Wendy with all my heart. I feel like I've lost a second mum."

Another long time friend, Barbara Windsor - who starred alongside Wendy in the film 'Carry On Girls as well as in EastEnders - said: "Wendy was always a tough lady and I thought she'd win this battle, it's really sad."

Although Wendy is best known for her role in EastEnders, she had a long and successful acting career, appearing in programmes such as 'The Newcomers', 'Dad's Army', 'Up Pompeii!' and 'The Likely Lads' in the 60s. Her big break then came with her role as shop assistant Miss Brahms in the 70s sitcom 'Are You Being Served?'.

Meanwhile fellow cancer sufferer, 'Big Brother' star Jade Goody, has praised Wendy for the support she gave her since she found she was diagnosed with Cervical Cancer last year.

Jade, 27, told how Wendy had given her a message of hope after they met at London's Royal Marsden Hospital, where Jade is currently being treated.

She said: "She was a lovely lady. She was brilliant to me. She said to keep fighting and make the most of life. All my love goes to her family."

A spokesperson added: "Wendy was extremely kind. She went out of her way to get in touch when Jade's cancer was diagnosed. Wendy encouraged Jade not to give up."

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