SARAH Harding's Popstars: The Rivals mentor Pete Waterman has said that "her demons were natural" as he paid moving tribute to the star.
The Girls Aloud favourite tragically passed away yesterday at the age of 39 following a battle with breast cancer.
And Pete, who helped catapult Sarah to fame almost 20 years ago, reflected on her star quality – as well as her struggle in the limelight.
Speaking on Good Morning Britain today, the 74-year-old music producer shared: "She was just a lovely, lovely kid – she couldn't believe she was in the competition and she bubbled with enthusiasm. She was just real, and that's what the programme picked up on – her ordinariness.
"She had enthusiasm, she was the girl next door, that's why she was in the band – the public loved her. Certain people, when they walk in the room, have an aura – and that's what you're looking for. She had that, no question. There was no question she'd be in the final band – there were probably 10 people who could have made it but I remember talking to her saying: 'Don't worry!'.
"She doubted herself – she had enthusiasm but no self belief."
Pete went on: "Of course she was winging it, that was the beauty of it, the kid next door. You saw she was winging it as she was absolutely excellent at it – that's why she was good."
Hosts Ben Shephard and Susanna Reid then asked the star about Sarah's "demons", with the bubbly singer spending time in rehab after becoming a regular on the party circuit.
But Pete insisted this was inevitable, explaining: "It's not easy, people forget about this job; it is hard work. It's 20 hours a day of cameras in your face all the time, it can be not fun. And I think if you come out of a show like this and it's all exciting, fun, fun, fun, then becomes interview after interview it becomes a little bit tiring.
"The shine goes off it a little bit, then you get all the demons kick in – and that's absolutely natural. It's very hard to say to young people: 'Calm down, this isn't going to last forever' as everyone thinks it will last forever."
He added that he hadn't spoken to Sarah in the final year of her life, but his heart goes out to "those left behind".
Earlier in today's Good Morning Britain, Dr Hilary Jones told viewers that Sarah's passing was an "unusual case" – and it's "rare" for young women to pass away from breast cancer.
He explained: "We hear a lot about breast cancer in younger women because it's so shocking when it happens, but about 5% of breast cancer is found in under 40s, and very, very rare in 20s.
"39 is still very young; the majority of women who die from breast cancer or develop breast cancer are 60s and 70s and beyond, so this is an unusual case. But when it is diagnosed in younger women, it tends to be later stage and more aggressive."
Hilary also reflected on the timing of Sarah's diagnosis, with the singer previously revealing that she faced delays due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
He explained: "It was very unlucky, it couldn't have been worse timing – right then, when we approached the first lockdown and services were being postponed."
However, he urged viewers to not hesitate in getting any concerns checked out, saying that the NHS "prioritises cancer treatment", and are very much "open for business."
The shine goes off it a little bit, then you get all the demons kick in – and that's absolutely natural.
Sarah tragically passed away yesterday morning, with her mum Marie announcing the sad news in a statement later that day.
She'd bravely gone public with her cancer battle last August, and told fans earlier this year that doctors had said Christmas 2020 would be her last.
Paying tribute to her daughter, her devastated mother 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."
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