Sarah Harding ‘finds comfort’ in renewed bond with Girls Aloud

Sarah Harding is supported by her former bandmates as she pens an autobiography amid her cancer battle and admits feeling “utterly lost” during the height of fame

sarah harding

by Daisy McLure |
Updated on

It’s been six months since Girls Aloud singer Sarah Harding shockingly revealed she’s battling advanced-stage breast cancer, which was diagnosed early last year but has progressed to other parts of her body. And last week, the courageous star, who is having chemotherapy, thanked her fans for helping her through her “bad days”.

Sarah, 39, revealed she’d enjoyed a “lovely but quiet Christmas” at home with her mum Marie and had used the time in between hospital visits to finish writing her tell-all autobiography – titled Hear Me Out – which she hopes will “show people the real me”.

Sarah went on to share its synopsis, which read, “I can’t rewrite history; all I can do is be honest and wear my heart on my sleeve. It’s really the only way I know. I want to show people the real me. Or perhaps remind them.

“Because, somewhere – amongst the nightclubs, the frocks and hairdos, the big chart hits, and the glamour of being a popstar – the other Sarah Harding got utterly lost. She’s the one who’s been forgotten. And all I want is for you to hear her out.”

In December, Sarah said the book – due for release on 18 March – had given her something “fun and positive to focus on” after moving back in with her mum as she undergoes treatment.

It’s clearly given her a chance to reflect on her years in the spotlight, too. After finding fame with Girls Aloud on Popstars: The Rivals back in 2002, Sarah – who was often pictured stumbling out of nightclubs – quickly became known as “Hardcore Harding” thanks to her wild nights out.

By 2011, she had checked into rehab for alcohol dependency and depression, admitting she used alcohol to “numb” the heartache of her failed relationship with DJ Tom Crane.

She said, “The day I left for rehab I was in such a mess. I’ve been told by those close to me that was when I hit my worst.”

In 2014 she appeared to be back on track, swapping her fast-paced London life for the countryside over fears she was “losing control”, before insisting she’d put her reputation as the “lairy” one in Girls Aloud behind her.

She said, “I was young and naive and played up to my lairy character. It overshadowed the real me. We would all play up to our characters.

“I do believe that ultimately doing that resulted in me getting this reputation. I’ve grown up a lot since then. I’m not a bad person, I have a big heart, but I’m human and I make mistakes.”

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Girls Aloud at the brit awards 2009 ©Getty Images

But in 2017, Sarah hit the headlines again as a result of her clashes with reality star Jemma Lucy while appearing together on Celebrity Big Brother.

Viewers also blasted the blonde – who was in a relationship at the time – for her romance with US reality star Chad Johnson. It was widely reported there was a divide in Girls Aloud – with Cheryl, Kimberley Walsh and Nicola Roberts forming a close bond, while Sarah and Nadine Coyle were rumoured to have been sidelined.

Hinting at the alleged feud as she entered the CBB house, Sarah said, “I don’t like confrontation – I’ve been in a girl band, and I don’t like it.”

She later said of one unnamed bandmate, “I haven’t seen or heard from one of them forever. Don’t know where she’s gone.”

Check out: Girls Aloud - where are they now?

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Cheryl

During her time in Girls Aloud Cheryl married and divorced footballer ex-husband Ashley Cole after he cheated. Cheryl was also found guilty of assault occasioning actual bodily harm following an altercation with a nightclub toilet attended in 2003. On a slightly lighter note (well, kind of) she threw a lot of shade when she said she "didn't think" Nicole Scherzinger would make it as a solo artist…

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Cheryl - 2020

Since her time in Girls Aloud, Chez has gone on to launch her solo career, she was a judge on The X Factor, moved onto The X Factor US but was sacked three weeks later and had a falling out with Simon Cowell. Despite texting him "f—k you. F—k the UK X Factor. F—k you all. I hate you," she returned to the show four years later. Cheryl has since become a judge on BBC's The Greatest Dancer. Chez was also an ambassador for L'Oreal and in 2020 she starred in the movie Four Kids and It.And after her divorce from Ashley, Cheryl got married to Jean-Bernard Fernandez but they split in 2016. She then dated Liam Payne and despite splitting in 2018 they're now co-parenting their son Bear Grey Payne.

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Kimberley Walsh

Kimberley was pretty unproblematic in Girls Aloud, although we can't forget when she completely backed Cheryl throwing shade at Nicole Scherzinger. Kimberley also didn't seem keen on the idea of the Pussycat Dolls star launching a solo career.

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Kimberley Walsh - 2020

Post-Girls Aloud, Kimberley climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in 2009 to raise money for Comic Relief, she has presented on TV and in 2012 she starred on Strictly Come Dancing and came runner up alongside her professional partner Pasha Kovalev. She's also married her long-term partner Justin Scott and they're parents to Bobby and Cole.

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Nadine Coyle

After Girls Aloud split in 2013, Nadine made it clear that it was not her idea. "You should know by now I had no part in any of this split business. I couldn't stop them. I had the best time & want to keep going," she tweeted at the time.

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Nadine Coyle - 2020

Nadine has pretty much become a meme after the nation discovered how she says "flour" on Sunday Brunch. She launched her own solo career, took part in I'm A Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! 2019 and following a brief split from her fiancé Jason Bell they went on to have a child and tie the knot. Unfortunately they split months before she flew out to the jungle.

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Sarah Harding

Sarah was definitely the funniest of the group. Remember at the Brit Awards in 2009 when Girls Aloud won Best Single for The Promise and Sarah shouted down the microphone, "Can I just say, it's about timmmeee… I think I just wet myself." Obsessed.

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Sarah Harding - 2018

Sarah has starred on Coronation Street as Joni Preston, she won Celebrity Big Brother 2017 and in 2017 it came to light that she allegedly had an affair with Danny Dyer back in the day. She also got engaged to DJ Tom Crane but they called off their wedding and in 2011 she entered rehab for alcohol dependence and depression.

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CREDIT: Getty Images

Nicole Roberts

Remember when Matt Willis called Nicola a "rude ginger b-tch" and she hit back but writing 'I'm a rude ginger b-tch… bothered!' on her shorts? Now that's iconic.

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CREDIT: Getty Images

Nicola Roberts - 2020

Nicola has also launched her solo career and she won the first series of The Masked Singer UK.

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Sarah won CBB in 2017 ©Getty Images

Just months later, Nadine – who Cheryl once blasted as “full of sh*t” after the band’s bitter split in 2013 – also confirmed the group’s frosty dynamics. She said, “So yeah there was [a divide]. We’re all very, very different characters.”

But it appears the group have now drawn a line under their differences. Sources say Sarah told the girls about her diagnosis before publicly revealing it, and Kimberley has said they’ve been in regular touch since, adding, “I am completely devastated, it’s been really, really tough – but speaking to her a lot helps and keeping that contact. She knows we’re there for her every step of the way.”

She also revealed that the girls had been planning to meet up with their bandmate before Christmas but their reunion was scuppered due to the coronavirus restrictions.

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The girlband at Girls Aloud - The Hits Tour in 2013 ©Getty Images

Commenting on Sarah’s post last week, Kimberley wrote, “Proud of you and can’t wait to read it,” while Nicola simply posted three love heart emojis.

In December, Cheryl showed her support for Sarah’s book, posting, “Well this is going to be an interesting read... Love you.” Nadine added, “My lovely Sarah has a book coming out and I can’t wait to read what she got up to when I was getting up to it with her!”

Insiders say that writing the book is “cathartic” as it’s “Sarah’s way of putting the past [feud] behind them for good.”

And Closer psychotherapist Noel McDermott agrees that Sarah will be “finding comfort” from reconnecting with her former bandmates and that the touching reunion will help her heal emotionally.

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Sarah Harding's autobiography is set to be released on March 18 and in this book the singer has admitted, "I want to show people the real me".

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Noel says, “When we’re faced with an existential event, it’s natural to reach out to people to let them know how important they are to us and that can be comforting. Those grievances you might have with somebody become ridiculous when the framing shifts from everyday life to something really serious.

“Any fallouts with people she was close to will pale into insignificance for her now and repairing the feud will help Sarah heal emotionally. Sarah will have been taught to write about her life story in rehab and recovery. It’s about putting things to bed and letting it go. It’s also about facing the past head on, warts and all.

“Her writing her book will also help others who may be going through something similar. When someone is faced with a serious illness, they’re often forced into a state of feeling disconnected and alone. It can be profoundly helpful for both Sarah and for whoever is reading her story. She’s taking something awful and transforming it into something with meaning.”

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cheryl first public appearance 2021
Billy (left) is doing a charity triathlon ©Getty Images

In her first public appearance in 14 months, Cheryl met up with amputee Billy Monger before his upcoming triathlon for Comic Relief. The singer – who confessed she hadn’t left her Surrey mansion for work since the pandemic started – urged fans to support racing driver Billy, who lost both his legs following a crash in 2017, as he takes on his 140-mile charity challenge.

Cheryl, 37 – mum to Bear, three, from her relationship with ex Liam Payne, 27 – said, “Today is the first day I’ve actually been somewhere to work and I went to meet up with Billy Monger. If you haven’t heard of him, you should really go and look him up… He is incredible.”

The star was last seen in public in January 2020 during a London work trip. She has also been quiet on social media, and last snapped herself in August visiting a fan and her baby.

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