Sarah Harding: Cheryl and Girls Aloud bandmates lead tributes to singer

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BBC News 06 September, 2021 - 07:14am 4 views

Who did Sarah Harding date?

Harding was engaged to DJ Tom Crane during 2011. She was also in a two-year relationship with DJ Mark Foster from late 2012 to late 2014. wikipedia.orgGirls Aloud's Sarah Harding

"Although we knew this day would arrive I am somehow still feeling at a loss for words that our stunning, unique, crazy, quirky, kind and soft-hearted girl has departed," wrote Cheryl in an Instagram post.

Harding, aged 39, revealed she had breast cancer in August 2020.

Earlier this year, she said the cancer had spread and doctors had told her she would not see another Christmas.

The singer "slipped away peacefully" on Sunday morning, her mother confirmed on Instagram.

Roberts also posted a tribute on social media following news of Harding's death.

"I'm absolutely devastated and I can't accept that this day has come," she wrote, while sharing photographs of them together.

"My heart is aching and all day everything we went through together has raced round my mind.

She added: "A part of me or us isn't here anymore and it's unthinkable and painful and utterly cruel.

Cheryl also extended her condolences to Girls Aloud's fans, writing: "We were like an extended family for so long and we know so many of you by name.

"I wanted to make sure you knew just how much your love and continued support meant to Sarah through her most vulnerable times. She was so grateful and you really lifted her spirits when she needed you most.

Coyle 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.

"I know so many of you will be feeling this way. For now I'm sending so much love to you."

Walsh also posted on Instagram: "Beautiful Sarah this hurts so bad. To wake up and know that you are really gone is too much to bear.

"Hearing your infectious chuckle was one of my favourite things in the world. Your fire burned so bright and you loved, lived and laughed so hard. Sending love and strength to everyone who is grieving today. My heart is broken."

In an Instagram post, Harding's mother Marie described her "beautiful" daughter as "a bright, shining star".

"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."

Harding shot to fame in 2002 as a contestant on Popstars: The Rivals - an ITV talent show which aimed to find both a new girl band and boy band.

She made it to the final and gained the final spot in the group which became Girls Aloud - despite being the underdog according to bookmakers - alongside Roberts, Coyle, Kimberley Walsh and Cheryl (then Cheryl Tweedy, now known simply by her forename).

Dozens of other TV and music stars have been paying tribute to the singer, who was born in Ascot, Berkshire, on 17 November 1981, and later moved to Stockport, Manchester.

Former Spice Girl Geri Horner - a judge on Popstars: The Rivals - tweeted: "Rest in peace, Sarah Harding. You'll be remembered for the light and joy you brought to the world."

Louis Walsh, who helped create and manage the group, said he would remember her with "great fondness".

"She was always fun and the life and soul of the party," he added. "Anytime she came to Dublin in the early days, we went out to the Pod nightclub and would be the last to leave."

Another member of the ITV talent show's cast, TV presenter Davina McCall, wrote it was "so, so sad" to hear the news. "A star from the get go, hugely fun and outgoing yet also somehow fragile... love to her family and friends."

Harding's former boyfriend Calum Best, a reality TV star, spoke of the "crazy fun times and adventures" they had together, saying she would be "so very missed".

Jesus this one hits home , so damn sad, so young. I hope u rest In peace Sarah we had some crazy fun times and adventures . U will be so very missed . Sending so much love to ur mom ❤️❤️❤️ pic.twitter.com/Wt3knGOtT9

These symptoms can be caused by other conditions, so it is important to get any lumps or changes checked by a doctor.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in the UK, with women over 50 more at risk than the under-40s.

But there are many other factors that can increase a person's risk, including a family history of cancer and being overweight.

Many treatments are available for breast cancer and survival is generally good if the disease is detected early.

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From afar (those who knew her personally would of course know best, and I can only speak in humble tribute as a casual observer) she came across as the type of girl who, if you were to bump into her at a party, would immediately give you a hug and tell you a devilishly dirty joke when nobody was listening. The kind of woman you’d be drawn to, like a magnet, because some people in a crowd are like that – some people are radiators or life buoys; the kind of people you want to be around, the kind of people who make you feel safe and loved, as if you’ve strayed off a dark road only to suddenly find yourself struck by a streetlight’s comforting glow.

With her infectious energy, mischievous smile and gorgeous, Hollywood siren looks (she would not have been out of place in black and white in a Noël Coward screenplay), there was always something about Sarah Harding that screamed “BFF in the loos at a nightclub”; the type of girl who would lend you her lipstick without a second’s thought and stroke your hair if you were being sick or crying over your shi*ty boyfriend. You just knew somehow that Sarah would tell you he was shi*ty and that there were plenty more fish in the sea, in that lovely, “normal” (by which I mean Manchester/South-Eastern mish-mash) accent of hers.

Sarah exuded fun and froth, warmth and light and dazzle, even from the remote distance of a TV screen or red carpet. Can anything be more fitting than the star’s own tattoo? Scratched into her back: “Don’t be bitter – glitter”. No wonder she won Celebrity Big Brother in 2017; no wonder she became a reality TV stalwart; no wonder she was picked to form Girls Aloud in the first place.

For those of us growing up in the 2000s – a decade marked by Saturday night takeaways and groups gathering together, collectively hungover, to soak up programmes such as ITV’s Popstars: The RivalsSarah Harding represented a distinct era of pop music; one played out in nightclubs, student unions and karaoke bars to shrieks of delight (or good-natured, performative dismay) every time Sound of the Underground or Love Machine started blaring. Even those of us with a punkier bent would secretly tap out the rhythm to Something Kinda Ooooh when nobody was watching.

I may not have known Sarah Harding personally, but I’ve known and loved women who remind me of her; women the exact same age as Sarah was when she died, impossibly young women whose lives have been ripped apart by health diagnoses they never saw coming. Yesterday, one of my closest friends and I shared our mutual sorrow over Sarah’s death while we talked about the practicalities of how we’ll organise childcare to help her out when she goes for reconstructive surgery tomorrow, following her own double masectomy for breast cancer in 2019.

The passing of someone so technicolour, so joyful and vibrant, lingers and affects us all because she reminds us of our friends, our sisters, ourselves. Sarah showed us all what it is to be strong, career-driven and determined, while also carrying a certain softness; a fragility, a vulnerability. A real good laugh to go out with, but someone you could also imagine would cry freely. Someone who wasn’t afraid to “own” her issues – she even checked herself into rehab after admitting she was struggling with depression and alcohol addiction.

Yet despite the occasional rocky road, Sarah’s mother’s heartfelt Instagram post about her daughter this week, in which she described her as “a bright shining star and I hope that’s how she can be remembered” says it all. Loved and lost and no doubt, dearly missed.

And if there’s one thing we can all learn from her luscious life-lived-fabulously, it’s not to take a second of it for granted.

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