Actors and colleagues of the late actress and animal welfare activist Alexandra Bastedo have spoken to the County Times about the loss of their ‘sorely missed’ friend.
Star of ITV’s ‘The Champions’ and founder of ABC Champions Animal Sanctuary, the 67-year-old West Chiltington resident lost her battle to cancer on Sunday January 12.
Fellow actress Lorraine Chase said she was ‘in shock’ and ‘devastated’ by the death of Alexandra.
“My friend told me on Monday and it’s such a shock. I’m absolutely devastated,” said the former Emmerdale star.
“She’d been very poorly, but we all thought she’d beaten it.
“We’ve known each other on and off for many years. She was beautifully spoken, incredibly intelligent and well read. We were just the best of mates.
“Everyone will remember that absolutely gob-smacking, stunning lady in Champions, but I think now everyone will remember the woman with the big heart.”
Although an acclaimed Hollywood star who mixed with the likes of Marlon Brando, Steve McQueen and Peter Sellers, Alexandra’s love of animals persuaded her to quit the glamour of show business and set up ABC Champions Animal Sanctuary more than 30 years ago.
Lorraine continued: “The amount of work she put into the animals at the sanctuary - she worked tirelessly for it and she never turned an animal away.
“She had a huge heart and she will be very sorely missed.”
Bergerac star Liza Goddard said Alexandra could not turn anyone away.
“She was one of the cleverest people I know, she had an amazing brain. She was very cultured and just incredibly interesting. She was funny and she had so much compassion - she couldn’t turn anyone away, not just animals but people as well.
“I will miss her as a great friend.”
Actress and Born Free Foundation founder, Virginia McKenna OBE, said: “I am so lucky to have known her and counted her as a friend. I shall never forget the last phone conversation I had with her just before New Year. Her voice had changed, but she was the same. For me, an unsung heroine.
“Everyone who knew and met Alexandra recognised her beauty as a person, and her compassion for humans and animals.
“Her lack of self pity and courage during her terrible illness was inspiring.
“Her great comfort was that she knew that the wonderful friends and team who supported and ran her ABC Animal Sanctuary were continuing to do so during her last months and will do so now.”
John Williams, trustee of the sanctuary said: “Alexandra had a wonderful way with people and left everyone she spoke to feeling that little bit special after having a conversation with her.
“She was loved by all and we shall miss her terribly at the sanctuary - but she has built a legacy to be proud of, and the trustees and volunteers will now pick up the reins to take her legacy forward.”
Now based in West Chiltington, the sanctuary has saved and rehomed thousands of animals, but the ‘Casino Royale’ actress will not be forgotten as a British sex symbol of the 1960s and 1970s.
‘Ever Decreasing Circles’ star Peter Egan said: “My wife Myra and Alexandra worked together in the West End for several months and went on tour. They became good friends, and this was about 40 years ago, so we’ve all since become very close .
“Alexandra was a marvellous friend and a supportive one. She was also charming and beautiful on the inside as well as the outside.
“She absolutely adored animals of all kinds, understood them well and was tireless in her devotion to them.
“A deeply committed woman and a very strong woman, she dealt with her illness with great spirit and strength.”
Actor Craig Henderson said he’ll miss Alexandra for the rest of his days.
“What I shall miss the most about Alexandra, and it upsets me to even write this, is her boundless kindness, encouragement, advice and determination to achieve good things for both the people around her and all the wounded or abandoned animals that came to the sanctuary,” said Craig.
“It’s so rare to find that in people. She set such a high example. She’s a friend I’ll miss for the rest of my days.”
Fans across the country have contacted the County Times with their tributes. Al Hinks from Staffordshire said: “She stood out from the crowd and I had the privilege to meet her at a charity event some 42 years later. A truly wonderful lady.”
Former general manager of St Wilfrid’s Hospice, Gillian Plowman, said: “She was so beautiful and kind, and a great supporter of St Wilfrid’s.”