Ex-EastEnders star Rita Simons wishes Barbara Windsor a Happy 81st Birthday as she battles Alzheimers

The 41-year-old actress, who played Bab's niece Roxy Mitchell in the soap, was among a flood of messages from people marking her special day.

Rita posted a snap of the pair together on Twitter and wrote: "Happy birthday to my favorite pretend aunty…. Aunty Peg. Love you Bar."

Allo' Allo' actress Vicki Michelle also shared a picture of herself with Barbara, writing: “Wishing Dame Barbara Windsor a very #HappyBirthday today, hope you’re having a fab day Barbara. #CarryOn #Eastenders @LADYRATLINGS.”

Fans also took to Twitter to offer their birthday wishes, with many describing her as an "icon".

In May, the Carry On star's husband revealed in an exclusive interview with The Sun that Barbara has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease.

Devoted husband Scott Mitchell, 55, broke down as she admitted they were given the diagnosis on April 22, 2014, but had chosen to keep things under wraps.

He said: “When the doctor told us, she began crying then held it back, stretched her hand out to me and mouthed, ‘I’m so sorry . . .’

“I squeezed her hand back and said, ‘Don’t worry, we’ll be OK’.”

Scott continued: “I can’t protect her any longer. I’m doing this interview — and I would like to make clear that I’m not being paid for it and it’s the only one I’ll be doing — because I know that rumours are circulating in showbusiness circles.

“And, since her 80th birthday last August, a definite continual confusion has set in, so it’s becoming a lot more difficult for us to hide.

Last month, her pal Pam St Clement revealed that Barbara is "doing well" and taking on some charity work after spending months out of the public eye.

Pam, 76, who played Pat Butcher in the soap, said during an appearance on Loose Women: "I am seeing her in a couple of days, she's actually doing some charity work this week.

"She could be doing it right now. So if she's watching, can we all wish Babs all the very best and lots of love."

Pam also denied false reports which suggested she'd been banned from seeing her pal in recent months as she has become too poorly.

The actress explained: "I was horrified and very angry to see an article in The Star which basically said Pam sparks fears for Barbara Windsor.

"I was like what's going on here.. We sometimes change our plans about meeting up [but I haven't been banned from seeing her]."

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