Sarah Harding: Pete Waterman pays tribute to 'girl next-door' loved for her 'ordinariness'
Sarah Harding was loved for being "the girl next-door" Pete Waterman has said as he paid tribute to the singer following her death.
The Girls Aloud singer has died aged just 39, after announcing last August that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer that had already spread to other parts of her body.
Music producer Waterman, 74, worked with Harding when she competed in Popstars: The Rivals in 2002, the ITV reality show that made her famous.
He told Good Morning Britain: "She was just a lovely, lovely young kid. She couldn’t believe she was in this competition, she’d bubble with enthusiasm. She was just real and that’s what the programme picked up - her ordinariness. She had enthusiasm, she was the girl next-door, that’s why she was in the band. The public loved her.
Read more: Sarah Harding releases unheard solo track amid cancer battle
"Certain people when they walk in the room have an aura about them and she had that."
Waterman — who visited Harding's family home as part of Popstars: The Rivals to deliver the news that she had reached the final — added: "Whenever I met her, she was always really polite."
Watch: Pete Waterman pays tribute to Sarah Harding
And Waterman said that he thought the Love Machine singer would want her legacy to be to encourage others to seek medical advice if they discovered any symptoms of cancer.
He said: "If you have a fear: deal with it. Don't put it off, it won't go away. I thinks that's what she would say: 'get it sorted'."
Harding's mother Marie announced on Instagram that the singer had died on Sunday morning. Harding had previously revealed doctors had told her she would not see another Christmas.
Her Girls Aloud bandmates Nicola Roberts and Nadine Coyle paid tribute to their late friend on social media.
Roberts, 35, shared pictures of themselves together and wrote: "I’m absolutely devastated and I can’t accept that this day has come. My heart is aching and all day everything we went through together has raced round my mind.
"Especially this last year since her diagnosis, as hard as the year has been, our new memories are strong in my heart. There are so many things to say and at first it felt to personal to put them here and then I remembered that there are so many other people grieving her too. A part of me or us isn’t here anymore and it’s unthinkable and painful and utterly cruel."
She added: "Electric girl, you made us. You gave it everything and still with a smile. A white butterfly flew past my window this morning before I knew, it must have been you."
Coyle, 36, said: "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!!!"
Cheryl sent her condolences to the Girls Aloud fans.
She wrote: "I wanted to extend my condolences to all of our GA fans. 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."
And Kimberley Walsh admitted her heard felt broken.
She said: "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."
After Girls Aloud went their separate ways in 2013 Harding announced plans to release a solo album, which never materialised.
She had embarked on an acting career, appearing in BBC drama Freefall in 2009 with Dominic Cooper and making a guest appearance in Coronation Street in 2015.
The Run For Your Wife star took part in Channel 4 skiing reality show The Jump in 2016 but was forced to pull out mid-series after injuring her knee in a training session.
Read more: Sarah Harding shares details of private Girls Aloud reunion
That same year she starred on the West End stage in Ghost: The Musical, but was replaced mid-tour as she was still suffering pain in her knee.
The singer and actress also competed in the 20th series of Celebrity Big Brother in 2017 and during her time in the house entered into a romance with US reality star Chad Johnson, despite being open about having a boyfriend in the outside world. Harding went on to win the reality show.
Harding retired from public life in 2019 closing down her social media accounts on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Her official website also went offline.