Gavin and Stacey stars support family on 200 mile charity walk from Billericay to Barry

'It's an amazing, amazing cause' - Ruth Jones aka Nessa

Stars from the hit TV show Gavin and Stacey have thrown their support behind a family who are completing a 200 mile charity walk in memory of their loved one.

The family of Pia Eaves, who died from pancreatic cancer in 2021, ran Marco's Cafe on Barry Island. The cafe featured in the BBC TV series as Stacey's workplace.

Inspired by the popular show, Pia's family are walking from Gavin's hometown, Billericay in Essex, to Barry Island in south Wales and are aiming to raise £100,000 for the charity Pancreatic Cancer UK in the process.

Their fundraising page has already amassed more than £80,000 of that target.

Mathew Horne who plays Gavin, Ruth Jones who plays Nessa, and Steffan Rhodri, who plays Dave Coaches in the popular sitcom recorded special video messages of support for the family before they set out on their endeavour.

The hit show ran for three series and returned for a one-off Christmas special in 2019. Credit: PA

The 'Walk For Pia' began on April 20 and is expected to take 12 days, finishing on Pia's birthday - May 1.

Pia, who was a fitness instructor, died from pancreatic cancer at the age of just 54.

Her husband, Simon Eaves, said despite Pia's diagnosis, she remained positive.

He explained: "It is a brutal cancer - but this did not deter or deflate Pia's determination to confront it full on - regardless of how debilitating and difficult the consequences of her treatment were - an attitude summed up in her two mantras heard many times during her extensive treatment 'I can and I will' and also 'Bring it on'.

Pia grew up in Barry and her family ran a number of local cafes including the Softa Freeze Bar, now Marco's. Credit: Walk For Pia

"She fought so hard with great courage and dignity."

He added: "We were so grateful for the support and care she received from so many of her medical team at Nuffield hospital, the NHS, the nurses and doctors at Phyllis Tuckwell and the District Nurse team - all are amazing people."

During her illness, Pia would cheer herself up by watching episodes of Gavin and Stacey and the programme became a firm favourite of the family. Following her death, the family wanted to do something positive in her memory so came up with the idea of the walk.

Pia's husband Simon, daughters Rhiannon and Emilia, Simon's brother Kevin Eaves, Pia's best friend Donna Bliss and Pia's elder sister, Paolo Matthews will all be taking part in the 200 mile journey.

'I just want to wish you lots of love and luck' - Matthew Horne aka Gavin

Pia grew up in Barry and was the youngest of six children. Her family ran a number of local cafes in the town including the Softa Freeze Bar, now Marco's.

The 54-year-old spent many summer holidays working in the kiosk on Barry island, selling ice cream and refreshments to holiday-makers.

At the age of 17, Pia met her childhood sweetheart Simon, who was 16 at the time and also a local boy.

However Pia came from a strict Italian family which Simon humorously recalls did not make dating easy.

The walk will take Pia's family and friends 12 days to complete, finishing at Marco's Cafe on May 1. Credit: Walk For Pia

He said: "I would not only sit with Pia in the front room but also, under the instructions of her father, her chaperone, eldest sister Carla!

"Pia and I did not ever get the opportunity to talk to each other instead, listening to the many things Carla had to say!"

However true love prevailed and both Simon and Pia went on to study at Swansea University, travel around the world for work together and get married. The pair have two children, Rhiannon who is now 21 and Emilia now 18.

Simon described Pia as "an inspiration to many people."

'Oh, what's occurin'?' - Steffan Rhodri aka Dave Coaches

He said: "It is horrendous that Pia has been taken away from us so early. Pia was more than a wife to me - she was my lifelong partner, my soul mate and my best friend - I will miss her desperately.

"The world is a darker place today without Pia in it but our memories of her will live on and her legacy will survive through Rhiannon and Emilia.

"I feel very lucky and privileged to have known her and share my life with her.

"As a family, we think it is important that we can help and prevent other families from going through what we had to which is why it is important to raise funds to research and prevent this dreadful disease."

Pancreatic cancer has the worst survival rates out of all 20 of the most common cancers.

According to the Office for National Statistics, less than seven per cent of people with pancreatic cancer will survive beyond five years in the UK.

Around 10,000 people are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer every year in the UK - that is equal to 27 people every day.