GIRLS Aloud star Sarah Harding lost her fight with cancer yesterday. She was 39.
The tragic news saw devastated friends and family pay touching tributes to the singer.
Sarah’s heartbroken mum Marie described her daughter as a “bright, shining star”.
Marie confirmed the news of her daughter’s death on Sarah’s official Instagram account.
Later bandmate Nadine Coyle, 36, posted an emotional statement.
She wrote: “I am absolutely devastated!! I can’t think of words that could possibly express how I feel about this girl & 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!!!”
Sarah was diagnosed with advanced breast cancer last August.
She had undergone mastectomy and chemotherapy in a bid to prolong her life. But the cancer had spread to her brain and lungs.
In a statement, Marie 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.”
A friend of the family told The Sun how all of Sarah’s relatives and her closest friends, including her Girls Aloud bandmates, were informed of the news hours before it was made public.
Sarah found fame as part of Girls Aloud in 2002 after they formed on TV show Popstars: The Rivals.
In the band with Nadine, Cheryl Tweedy, now 38, Kimberley Walsh, 39, and Nicola Roberts, 35, Sarah became a household name.
Sarah was a bright, shining star and I hope that’s how she can be remembered.
Girls Aloud had four No1 singles, 21 UK top ten hits, and two No1 albums before splitting in 2013. Last night as The Sun went to press, Cheryl, Kimberley and Nicola had not shared any messages publicly.
But Spice Girls star Geri Horner, 49 who was a judge on Popstars: The Rivals, said: “Rest in peace, Sarah Harding. You’ll be remembered for the light and joy you brought to the world.”
Davina McCall, 53, who hosted Celebrity Big Brother when Harding won in 2017, said: “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.”
Sarah’s ex-boyfriend and pal Calum Best, 40, paid tribute to her with pictures on Instagram.
He wrote next to them: “Jesus this one hits home. So damn sad, so young.
“I hope you rest in peace Sarah. We had some crazy fun times and adventures. You will be so very missed.” TV host Piers Morgan, 56, added:
“RIP Sarah Harding. A fabulous pop star and delightful lady. Such incredibly sad news.”
Fellow presenter Holly Willoughby, 40, said: “Feeling incredibly sad about the news of Sarah Harding.
“I had the pleasure of knowing and working with Sarah a fair few times over the years and she was always pure sunshine. Love to her family. She will be sadly missed.”
Since her initial diagnosis, brave Sarah had kept her social media followers and fans up to date with how she was getting on and posted snaps from hospital.
She went on to write about her experiences in her book Hear Me Out, which was a bestseller.
She told how she had almost died following a battle with sepsis while having treatment.
I can’t think of words that could possibly express how I feel about this girl and what she means to me.
At the time, Sarah wrote: “I’m just grateful to wake up every day and live my best life, because now I know just how precious it is . . . nothing is certain any more.”
Sarah had thought chemotherapy was working until doctors told her that she had a secondary tumour.
She wrote about the devastating news in her book and said she was continuing treatment in a bid to prolong her life.
Sarah also told how she had been warned that the Christmas just past would be her last — and explained that she had asked doctors not to tell her how long she had left.
Sarah said: “I don’t want an exact prognosis. I don’t know why anyone would want that.
You’ll be remembered for the light and joy you brought to the world.
“Comfort and being as pain-free as possible is what’s important to me now.
“Silly little things make me happy: my lie-ins, watching Family Guy on TV through the night when I can’t sleep, roasting a chicken for Mum and me on a Sunday, if I’m feeling up to it.”
In March, Sarah released a previously unheard song, Wear It Like A Crown, with all proceeds from the sales going to The Christie NHS Foundation, where she had received treatment.
The song went straight to No1 on iTunes. Thrilled Sarah wrote at the time: “I can’t believe you nutters got the song not only into the charts, but to NUMBER ONE! I love you all so much, you are the best people in the world.”
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