Jake Wood has been forced to withdraw from the London Marathon in memory of his girlfriend Barbara Windsor.
The ex-EastEnders star, who met Barbara on the soap, took to social media late on Friday to reveal he was suffering from a ‘serious chest infection’.
Barbara died of dementia in 2020. And Jake would walk alongside her widower Scott Mitchell and other EastEnders stars including Lacey Turner, Natalie Cassidy and Adam Woodyatt.
He confirmed the news in a video message, revealing that he was “gutted” but was following doctor’s orders.
He told his followers: ‘Unfortunately due to medical advice I am unable to run the London Marathon (on) Sunday’.
Devastated: Jake Wood has been forced to pull out of the London Marathon in memory of his girlfriend Barbara Windsor
Tribute: Barbara died of dementia in 2020. And Jake would run alongside her widower Scott Mitchell and other EastEnders stars
“I have a very severe chest infection, I’ve had it for the past few weeks. I’ve been told in no uncertain terms not to run.’
Before adding: ‘I’m gutted I don’t have to lead it with all my fellow Bab’s Army to raise money for Alzheimer’s Research UK.
“I will be very sorry not to be with them that day.”
Barbara’s widower Scott rushed to the comments section and said, “Jake, you’ve been a warrior all through training!” We are so sorry to lose you from the team!! Your health comes first but just right for you! Thanks for everything you’ve done so far! I love you mate!’.
While Adam Woodyatt, who played Ian Beale, wrote, “Hollowed out for you, Bud. Tough decision, but the right one’.
And Rainie Cross actress Tanya Franks commented, “Jake, we will miss you dearly, and know that we all love you and wish you well!!!”
Emma Barton, who plays Honey Mitchell on the soap, agreed writing: ‘Oh Jake!! Get well soon buddy..sorry for you..but you need to take care of yourself..loves you
Ahead of the announcement, Jake revealed the stars who all knew and loved Barbara and see the marathon as a fitting tribute.
Ill health: He confirmed the news in a video message, revealing he was ‘gutted’ but following doctor’s orders
Support: His fellow runners rushed to the comment section to share their support
He said, “We all knew and loved Barbara. She was a wonderful person. It’s an honor to do this in her memory.’
Jake added in his interview to the Mirror: “She ruled the set, but was just so friendly and welcoming about it.”
The star also revealed that she was an inspiration to the cast and that she gave him advice, guidance and took him under her wing.
Despite the huge undertaking of a marathon, Jake was still planning to be on the final night of 2:22 A Ghost Story’s current run with Cheryl — it’s unknown if he’ll appear now.
He said, “Originally I took the day off… of course, because the marathon is a big thing. But the rest of the cast was a little upset that I didn’t do the show with them last night.”
Raising money: Ahead of the announcement, Jake revealed the stars who all knew and loved Barbara and see the marathon as a fitting tribute (pictured with Barbara’s widower Scott Mitchell)
Babs’ Army posted their training runs together on Instagram in the lead up to the marathon.
It comes after Scott shared the touching words his late wife told him two years ago shortly before her death.
The actor reflected on his grief in an interview with Best magazine and said now is the time for him to think about his future the way Barbara would have wanted.
Scott candidly discussed his two-year grieving struggle, admitting that things are “getting better,” and sharing the sweet words Barbara shared with him before she passed away.
He told Best, “Before she died, Barbara told me to cry, be heartbroken, and then have the best time. Knowing Barbara, she would have remarried a nice 25-year-old by now!’
Training: Babs’ Army posted their training runs together on Instagram leading up to the marathon (Photo: Natalie Cassidy on a training run)
Tribute: Jake said he was honored to run the London Marathon in memory of his friend Barbara with Babs’ Army (pictured on This Morning)
Scott went on to say that while Barbara will always be important to him, it’s time to think about his future and said that he is open to what comes next in life.
He said, ‘Now is the time to think about me and my future. Barbara will always be a big part of my life, but she wishes I could move on.”
His latest comments come after Scott recently claimed that people viciously 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 pair first met.
Scott, who began his relationship with the soap star when she was 63 and he was 27, said: ‘She was a million pounds in debt when we met. I must have been the worst gold digger in the world. Am I really wrong there?’.
“They all thought who is this man who is this unknown actor. They thought it was me who ended the marriage (her second). They called me a gold digger.’
After Barbara’s death, Scott was given £4.6 million in her will, and the star also donated to various charities.
The iconic actress was married three times in her life, first to Ronnie Knight in 1964 and then to Stephen Hollings for nine years before divorcing in 1995.
Scott went on to reflect on Barbara’s death, saying, “It’s unbelievable. Tomorrow it will be two years ago. I still think she will walk through the door.
“It’s something deep inside me. I wake up some mornings and think she’s still fine.”
‘After 27 years, I am still in the early stages of mourning 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 significant other. That’s what I lost. That’s why I still have that feeling now that she’s still with me. Sometimes feel the loneliness that she is no longer there.
Scott went on to talk about his book titled By Your Side: My Life Loving Barbara Windsor about his twenty years of marriage.
‘She (Barbara) predicted it (the book). She said one day they’ll ask you to write a book when I’m gone. She told you to do it and to be completely honest.
“I learned a lot about life and love from Barbara.”
Last year it emerged that she had left £4.6 million in her will, but also donated £1,000 each to seven different charities, according to The Sun.
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 has been 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 rehabilitation center for wounded soldiers) and Age UK were the seven charities to which Barbara left £1,000 each.
Life: It comes after Scott shared the touching words his late wife told him shortly before her death two years ago (pictured together in 2019)
Scott was given the rest of Barbara’s £4.63 million estate.
Barbara was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2014 and kept her battle with the disease private for four years.
Barbara’s last TV role was in her own biopic, which chronicled her humble beginnings in Shoreditch through 1993, with Jaime Winstone and Samantha Spiro playing the star at various points in her life.