The Girls Aloud singer Sarah Harding has died aged 39.
The mother of the pop star confirmed the news on Harding’s Instagram page by thanking fans for their “strength and support”.
Harding had been diagnosed with breast cancer in August 2020. She shared a picture on Instagram from her hospital bed, below.
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.”
Harding found fame with Girls Aloud which were formed on ITV’s Popstars: The Rivals in 2002. The band went on to have huge success.
Harding passed away on Sunday morning after several months of chemotherapy. As well as breast cancer, she also suffered with tumours in her brain and lung but she detailed in a memoir how both had shrunk with treatment.
Earlier this year, the singer said she had been told by a doctor that she would probably not be alive next Christmas.
In an extract of the memoir, titled Hear Me Out, Harding wrote: “In December my doctor told me that the upcoming Christmas would probably be my last. I don’t want an exact prognosis. I don’t know why anyone would want that.
“Comfort and being as pain-free as possible is what’s important to me now.”
She said she was “trying to live and enjoy every second of my life, however long it might be”.
“I am having a glass of wine or two during all this, because it helps me relax,” she added. “I’m sure some people might think that’s not a great idea, but I want to try to enjoy myself.
“I’m at a stage now where I don’t know how many months I have left. Who knows, maybe I’ll surprise everyone, but that’s how I’m looking at things.”
Harding said publicly revealing her diagnosis was “scary” but was also “the right thing to do”.
She said the support she had received had been “incredible”, adding: “I’ve been inundated with lovely messages from my fans. I’m grateful beyond words for that.”
Tributes pour in
Fans and celebrities posted on social media about their sadness at the news.
The former Big Brother host Davina McCall described Harding (who appeared on the Celebrity version) as a “star from the get go” and “hugely fun and outgoing yet also somehow fragile”.
The singer and talent show judge Alesha Dixon said on Twitter: “A sad day! Such a shining star! Rest in peace beautiful Sarah.”
JLS star Oritse Williams, whose band emerged four years after Girls Aloud, shared a lengthy tribute online.
He 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.”
A tweet from the official account of Ant McPartlin and Declan Donnelly said: “Such sad news. RIP Sarah xx”.
Others paying tribute included the former Spandau Ballet member Martin Kemp, who tweeted: “Sarah Harding so sad, my heart goes out to all your friends and family and all your fans. Rest in peace!”
The television presenter Fearne Cotton wrote: “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.”
The Steps star Ian “H” Watkins wrote on Instagram: “Fly high beautiful Sarah xx I will miss you xx”.
Calum Best, the reality TV star who was in a relationship with Harding between 2005 and 2006, spoke of the happiness he had with her.
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.”
The television presenter Vernon Kay described Harding as “the driving energy in the room”.
“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.”
The television star Denise Van Outen commented on the Instagram post from Harding’s mother, Marie, announcing her death.
Van Outen wrote: “This is so heartbreaking. Rest in peace beautiful Sarah. Thinking of you all. Family and friends.”