Natalie Cassidy has paid tribute to Richard who lost her battle with breast cancer on Thursday.

“I’m heartbroken. It’s so sad to lose someone who’s so important to me again because of that horrible, horrible word – cancer. I lost my mum to bowel cancer when I was only 19 and after that Wendy and I became close.” – Natalie Cassidy

The actress, who starred alongside Richard in EastEnders, was speaking to Sunday tabloid News of the World.

Cassidy played Sonia Fowler, daughter-in-law of Wendy Richard’s character Pauline in the BBC soap. Sonia’s affair with a fellow nurse saw bad blood develop between the two characters. 

Sonia initially believed that she was responsible for Pauline suffering a brain haemorrhage on Christmas Day 2006 after she visited her with a festive slap, however it later transpired that Pauline’s estranged husband Joe Macer (Ray Brooks) was behind her demise having walloped her with a frying pan off-screen.

Sonia’s last appearance in February 2007 saw her depart Walford in a black cab with Martin and their daughter Rebecca (Jade Shariff) for a fresh start in Manchester.

“I kept in contact with her husband John Burns,” Cassidy further noted of Wendy’s passing “He told me, ‘She went into intensive care but she’s cracking jokes and she’ll be home soon’. But she took an unexpected turn for the worse. I didn’t see it coming.”

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