Girls Aloud star Sarah Harding dies aged 39 following battle with breast cancer

5 September 2021, 14:15 | Updated: 5 September 2021, 15:40

Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

Girls Aloud singer Sarah Harding has died aged 39 following a battle with breast cancer, her mother has said.

The pop star announced she was diagnosed with advanced-stage breast cancer in August last year, saying the disease had spread to other parts of her body.

She found fame as part of the English-Irish girl group created through the ITV talent show Popstars: The Rivals in 2002.

Her mum Marie posted on Instagram on Sunday to say "bright shining star" Harding "slipped away peacefully this morning".

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Sarah Harding died aged 39 following a brave battle with breast cancer
Sarah Harding died aged 39 following a brave battle with breast cancer. Picture: Alamy
Sarah Harding (centre) performing with Girls Aloud at London's O2 Arena in 2013
Sarah Harding (centre) performing with Girls Aloud at London's O2 Arena in 2013. Picture: Alamy

A statement from her mother said: "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. - Marie x".

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Fellow celebrities were quick to offer their condolences to the Girls Aloud star, including former Spandau Ballet member Martin Kemp, who wrote on Twitter: "Sarah Harding so sad, my heart goes out to all your friends and family and all your fans."

Ian Watkins, also known as 'H' from pop group Steps, wrote alongside two broken heart emojis: "Fly high beautiful Sarah xx I will miss you xx."

TV presenter Fearne Cotton said: "Oh my gosh I’m so sorry to hear this. I’m sending your family so much love and strength.

"She was always kind and so much fun to be around. I’m very sorry for your loss. Prayers and love to you."

Former Hollyoaks actress and model Gemma Merna wrote: "I am so sorry for your loss sending you all so much love."

Comedian Alan Carr said the news was "heartbreaking", while Alesha Dixon wrote on Instagram: "A bright shining star! Rest in peace beautiful Sarah. Thank you for your love and kindness angel."

A tweet from the official account of Ant McPartlin and Declan Donnelly said: "Such sad news. RIP Sarah xx".

JLS star Oritse Williams tweeted: "Heartbreaking to hear that Sarah Harding from Girls Aloud has just passed away after a long battle with cancer. The times we met she was always so bubbly, such a big beautiful personality. My sincerest sympathies and heart goes out to Sarah's friends, family & band members."

Reality TV star Calum Best spoke of the "crazy fun times and adventures" he had with Harding.

He said on Twitter: "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."

His post was accompanied by three pictures of him with the former Girls Aloud member.

TV presenter Vernon Kay described Harding as "the driving energy in the room" on social media.

"Very sad news," he tweeted.

"From the moment Pop Idol finished GA were regularly on T4 and Radio1. Sarah was always the driving energy in the room... RIP."

TV star Denise Van Outen wrote on Instagram: "This is so heartbreaking. Rest in peace beautiful Sarah. Thinking of you all. Family and friends".

Model and TV star Jodie Kidd wrote: "Heart aches, fly high and shine bright bubba girl x I am so so sorry".

TV personality Lizzie Cundy said she is "heartbroken" following the death of Sarah Harding.

In a post on Twitter, accompanied by a picture of them together, she said: "A beautiful girl inside and out ... Heartbroken.

"Thank you for the fun times dear Sarah. Rest in peace my friend."

Former Big Brother host Davina McCall wrote in a tribute to Sarah Harding: "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."

Harding, born in Ascot in Berkshire, rose to fame in 2002 as a contestant on Popstars: The Rivals.

Girls Aloud was created on the show and the group went on to score the Christmas number one that year with their debut single Sound Of The Underground.

The band went on to release five studio albums, two of which topped the Official Charts Company rankings.

In addition to her pop success, Harding enjoyed a varied career in acting and television.

Some of her early credits include roles in the St Trinian's films and BBC drama Freefall, opposite Dominic Cooper.

She also made a guest appearance in Coronation Street as Joni in 2015 and was subsequently invited back to feature in more episodes of the ITV soap.

In 2016 Harding made her stage debut in Ghost - The Musical at the New Wimbledon Theatre in south-west London.

In the same year she was forced to pull out of Channel 4's reality ski show The Jump after rupturing a ligament.

She become the sixth celebrity to leave the show through injury.

In 2017 Harding was a contestant on Celebrity Big Brother and was crowned the winner.

She narrowly beat singer Amelia Lily, with Made In Chelsea's Sam Thompson coming third.

Harding formed a relationship with fellow contestant Chad Johnson, but they reportedly split shortly after the programme concluded.

She was previously engaged to DJ Tom Crane and they announced the end of their four-year relationship in 2011.

Harding entered rehab shortly after their split and later openly discussed her struggle with alcohol.

She disclosed in August 2020 that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer, which had spread to other parts of her body.