Nicola Roberts on losing a loved one after Sarah Harding’s death: ‘It makes you realise how fragile life is’


Nicola Roberts Sixty Seconds Rex Features
The death of her Girls Aloud bandmate has reminded her ‘how fragile life is’ (Picture: Rex/ Metro.co.uk)

Girls Aloud singer Nicola Roberts, 36, on being a campaigner for recycling and how everyone can make a difference, as well as talking about the loss of her friend and bandmate Sarah Harding.

Why do you back the Recycle Your Electricals campaign?

I was approached to create a dress with designer Alexandra Sipa for the Fashion Awards to strengthen the message about recycling and sustainability.

The fashion industry contributes 10% towards global emissions and something like 55,000 tonnes of electrical cables are being disregarded or hoarded in British homes every year.

The dress incorporated 210 unwanted electrical cables to show that beautiful things can be created using recyclables to encourage people to take steps towards a healthier planet.

Fabrics don’t have to be disregarded the way they are.

Nicola Roberts The Fashion Awards 2021, Arrivals, Royal Albert Hall, London, UK - 29 Nov 2021 Mandatory Credit: Photo by Matt Baron/REX/Shutterstock (12622891mz)
Nicole wore a dress by designer Alexandra Sipa to the Fashion Awards (Picture: Matt Baron/REX/Shutterstock)

Are you very aware of what you wear and its sustainability?

I don’t fast buy, I’ll only buy if it’s something I really need, and I try and buy from sustainable brands.

As the seasons change, we might need a new coat or sweater but it’s not about bulk buying. When I was younger, I’d buy for the sake of it. Recycling at home is the most basic first step you can take — it’s a super bugbear for me if friends or family don’t.

Most of the things in your house are plastic — water bottles or plastic around our vegetables — and the idea of that going into general waste and then sitting in landfill is too uncomfortable to imagine. Landfills are the most sickening idea.

Do you feel a responsibility to use your profile to urge people to be more environmental?

We all have a responsibility to each other. I think it always helps when someone has a profile but there’s no harm in asking your friends and family, ‘Have you thought about it this way?’

I annoy my family because I’m a vegetarian so I’ll tell them about the effect the fishing industry is having on our oceans, the carbon emissions that are coming out of our beef factories, while they’re all eating meat and consuming dairy. I’m that person.

You do a lot with the fashion industry. What do you love so much about it?

I just love fashion and the freedom it can give. When I was younger I was shy and struggled with self-confidence.

You’ve been through so much, especially with Sarah Harding passing. Has it changed the way you live your life?

When you have a loss close to you, it magnifies how fragile life is. Nothing is given or promised.

We can make all the plans in the world but it leaves you feeling concerned anything can happen at any given moment.

But it’s important to not become mentally swallowed up in those thought processes because that’s not healthy either.

It’s just about trying to be positive, present with your friends and family, and do things you enjoy. Make the most of your days and don’t take anything for granted.

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 28: Sarah Harding attends the National Film Awards UK at Portchester House on March 28, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by Mike Marsland/Mike Marsland/WireImage)
Girls Aloud member Sarah Harding tragically died in September 2021 (Picture: Mike Marsland/Mike Marsland/WireImage)

How hard is it to find your feet after being in a top girl band?

When you come out of a band, it’s definitely a shock to the system. You’ve been in a very secure bubble for a long time and you’re not privy to different surroundings.

So when that bubble falls away, it’s your job to find new friends and different interests, which feels slightly alien.

I went straight into the studio to write for other artists because that’s where I felt at home. You just have to be aware of what your interests are. I want to act too so I have an acting agent.

Can you believe you won The Masked Singer in 2020?

No! That show was bonkers. You’re not introduced to the rest of the talent so you have no idea who else is on the show or what you’re up against until the show airs and you see how good they all are.

You can only do your best with the songs you’ve chosen and hope the audience likes them.

But it came at a great time because I’d just come out of not a very nice period personally and then won it, and everyone was so welcoming and supportive.

Monster, Jonathan Ross and Queen Bee 'The Masked Singer' TV show, Series 1, UK - 04 Jan 2020 The Masked Singer, is a British ITV reality singing competition television series. Editorial use only Mandatory Credit: Photo by Vincent Dolman/ITV/REX/Shutterstock (10506562r)
Nicola’s Girls Aloud pals recognised her voice on The Masked Singer (Picture: Vincent Dolman/ITV/REX/Shutterstock)

Did all the Girls Aloud girls recognise it was you?

Yeah, they all knew and were all texting me and I just couldn’t reply. I’d be like, ‘I don’t know what you’re on about.’ And they’d be like, ‘I don’t know how you think you can lie to us.’ I was like, ‘Honestly, I have no idea! I can understand that you think it sounds like me but I’m telling you, it’s not me!’

It was so hard and it was over weeks — even my family would text me and I just couldn’t reply. I felt so bad. I hadn’t sung for such a long time — since the group, really — and even then I didn’t get to sing the way I sang on The Masked Singer.

It was so enjoyable to open up my lungs and know that when I open my mouth, people respond well.

You were only 16 when you found fame…

I was too young, really. I think about that and maybe it was beneficial because I wasn’t fully aware of everything going on.

But I’m so much stronger and confident in who I am now. It would’ve been nice to be on such a huge platform with this personality rather than being fresh out of school and thrown in not even at the deep end but the Atlantic Ocean.

See recycleyourelectricals.org.uk for more information.

MORE : Sarah Harding’s father ‘misses her greatly’ as he speaks out on Girls Aloud star’s death for first time

MORE : Kimberley Walsh reveals grieving for Girls Aloud co-star Sarah Harding is a ‘daily challenge’

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