Girls Aloud star Sarah Harding has died aged 39, her mother has said.
The singer had announced she was diagnosed with advanced-stage breast cancer in August 2020, saying the disease had spread to other parts of her body.
On Instagram, her mother Marie wrote: “It is 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.”
In March 2021, she released her autobiography, Hear Me Out, explaining that she had decided to go public about her illness to potentially help others who might be worried about seeing a doctor, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“There had been so much reporting on the news about people missing out on check-ups during COVID lockdown, even though they might be worried about something,” she said in the book.
“People who had left a cancer diagnosis until it might be too late. 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.
“As scary as it was to go public about my diagnosis, it was the right thing to do, and the amount of support I’ve received is incredible. I’ve been inundated with lovely messages from my fans. I’m grateful beyond words for that.”
Harding rose to fame with Girls Aloud on ITV’s Popstars: The Rivals in 2002, alongside Cheryl, Nadine Coyle, Nicola Roberts, and Kimberley Walsh.
The band got to Christmas number one that year with their debut single, Sound Of The Underground, and went on to become one of the most successful pop groups in British music history.
In addition to her music success, the star had a varied career in acting and television, with credits including roles in the St Trinian’s films and BBC drama Freefall, opposite Dominic Cooper, as well as a stint on the famous cobbles of Coronation Street.
In 2016, she made her stage debut in Ghost – The Musical at the New Wimbledon Theatre in southwest London, and the following year went on to appear in Celebrity Big Brother – which she went on to win.
Record producer and Popstars: The Rivals judge Pete Waterman told Sky News that he will “always remember her smile and the friendship and that bouncing on the bed” when he revealed she would be part of Girls Aloud.
“That’s what you do when you’re so excited, you don’t think of the television cameras, you just enjoy yourself, and that was why programmes like Pop Idol… work, particularly because you’ve got you’ve got young people who are so excited.
“It just showed the public just love that raw excitement and raw emotion as young people really enjoying themselves, and that’s why I’ll always remember that moment when we told her, ‘yes, you were in the band’ and it was like suddenly… they could have a magic moment.”
Rest in peace, Sarah Harding. You’ll be remembered for the light and joy you brought to the world. X
— Geri Horner (@GeriHalliwell) September 5, 2021
There has also been an outpouring of condolences on Twitter, with celebrities such as actor Martin Kemp, Steps star Ian “H” Watkins and presenter Vernon Kay all passing on their love.
Spice Girl Geri Horner also tweeted, saying: “Rest in peace, Sarah Harding. You’ll be remembered for the light and joy you brought to the world.”
Host of Popstars: The Rivals, the show on which Harding found fame, Davina McCall, wrote: “So so sad to hear about Sarah… a star from the get go, hugely fun and outgoing yet also somehow fragile… love to her family and friends”.
Winner of the original Popstars format Kym Marsh, said: “I’m so very sorry to hear of the passing of Sarah Harding. What a beautiful girl and person she really was. I don’t claim to have known her very well but what I did know was how fun and kind she really was. My thoughts are with her family and friends at this time. Sleep tight x”.