Tributes have been pouring in after it was announced yesterday that Sarah Harding had passed away at the age of 39.
The former Girls Aloud singer and actress had been battling breast cancer, having disclosed her diagnosis back in August 2020, and had revealed that the cancer had spread to other parts of her body.
Her family shared the news of her passing in a statement on social media.
On Instagram, her mother Marie wrote: “It’s with deep heartbreak that today I’m sharing the news that my beautiful daughter Sarah has sadly passed away.
“Many of you will know of Sarah’s battle with cancer and that she fought so strongly from her diagnosis until her last day. She slipped away peacefully this morning. I’d like to thank everyone for their kind support over the past year. It meant the world to Sarah and it gave her great strength and comfort to know she was loved.
“I know she won’t want to be remembered for her fight against this terrible disease – she was a bright shining star and I hope that’s how she can be remembered instead.”
Earlier this year, Harding said doctors had told her she would not see another Christmas.
In an extract from her memoir published in The Times, Harding wrote: “In December my doctor told me that the upcoming Christmas would probably be my last.”
She said she didn’t want an exact prognosis, just “comfort” and to be “pain-free”.
Harding also said in her autobiography, Hear Me Out, about how she initially put off getting medical advice when she first found lumps under her arm in December 2019. She eventually saw a doctor who advised her to schedule an MRI scan – but then “coronavirus hit and everything either went into slow motion or stopped altogether”, she wrote.
“I was aware that I needed to get this health issue sorted, but with everything that was going on, it was tough.”
She added: “One day I woke up realising that I’d been in denial about the whole thing. Yes, there was a lockdown, yes, there was a pandemic, but it was almost as if I’d been using that as an excuse not to face up to the fact that something was very wrong.”
Harding said she had decided to go public about her illness to potentially help others who might be worried about seeing a doctor, explaining that: “Maybe if I spoke out, as a public figure, a celebrity, it could help get the message across how important it is to get checked out if you have concerns.”
Social media has been flooded with worthy tributes since the news of Harding’s passing was announced yesterday.
Her Girls Aloud bandmates Nicola Roberts and Nadine Coyle led the tributes on social media.
Roberts, who shared photos of them together, posted: “I can’t accept that this day has come. My heart is aching and all day everything we went through together has raced round my mind… a part of me or us isn’t here anymore and it’s unthinkable and painful and utterly cruel.”
She added: “Electric girl, you made us. You gave it everything and still with a smile.”
Coyle also wrote on Instagram: “I am absolutely devastated. I can’t think of words that could possibly express how I feel about this girl and what she means to me.”
Geri Horner, Calum Best, Davina McCall, Martin Kemp, Fearne Cotton, Katie Price, Louis Walsh, Ian “H” Watkins, and a whole host of other North West stars have publicly expressed their condolences – including Vernon Kay, Kym Marsh, and Keith Duffy.
Sarah Harding had a successful career – and she also had a special relationship with Greater Manchester.
She may have been born in Ascot, but she was raised in Greater Manchester after her family moved to Stockport when she was 14-years-old.
Before finding fame on talent show Popstars: The Rivals in 2002, the former Hazel Grove High School pupil studied hair and beauty at Stockport College and she worked on the promotions team for two nightclubs in The Grand Central Leisure Park in Stockport, as well as waitressing at Pizza Hut.
She shot to fame when she won a place in Girls Aloud with bandmates Cheryl Tweedy, Kimberley Walsh, Nadine Coyle and Nicola Roberts on the ITV singing contest to create a boy band and a girl group.
The bands then competed against each other for the 2002 Christmas number one and Girls Aloud’s debut Sound Of The Underground won.
Guinness World Records listed Girls Aloud as Most Successful Reality TV Group, Most Consecutive Top Ten Entries in the UK by a female group, and they were also named the UK’s biggest selling girl group of the 21st century – with over 4.3 million singles sales and four million albums sold in the UK alone.
The band split in 2013, following a string of hits including Love Machine, Biology, The Promise and more.
Following the band’s split, Harding ventured into acting and television, with credits including roles in the St Trinian’s films, and BBC drama Freefall opposite Dominic Cooper – but her relationship with Greater Manchester continued as she returned to her roots in 2015 by joining the iconic cobbles of Coronation Street, where she made a guest appearance in four episodes as the wife of Tracy Barlow’s ex husband Robert Preston.
Strutting onto the cobbles, her feisty character Joni Preston announced herself by slapped Tracy in the face for sleeping with her man.
In 2016, she swapped the cobbles for the ski slopes on the winter sports show The Jump, and the following year won the hearts of viewers on the popular reality competition show Celebrity Big Brother, where her highly entertaining antics saw her crowned the winner.
Sarah Harding’s glittering career ensures she will be remembered as “a bright shining star.”
Featured Image – ITV