Kimberley Walsh has said she "mothered" her former bandmate Sarah Harding during their time in Girls Aloud and admits the star didn't always share her struggles with the group.

Speaking on Frankie Bridge's Open Mind with Frankie Bridge podcast, the 38-year-old singer discussed Harding's 2011 stint in rehab for depression and alcohol addiction following her split from her DJ fiancé Tom Crane.

"She was always louder but that for me never really tells the truth about what someone's personality is, so I always saw that kind of bravado a bit with Sarah.

"She does have a really soft side where, like I said, again, you just kind of want to mother her, even though you know probably some of the decisions that she makes are not the best for her.

"You can just see that that’s her journey she has to go on."

When asked about her own role in the band, Walsh said she "was the mother of the group" because she was the eldest. 

"Sarah and I are the same age but obviously she was a little bit crazier in those days than I was so I mothered her as well."

Walsh said Harding, who is currently battling breast cancer, kept a lot of her personal struggles to her herself during the band's 10-year run and reckons she was "trying to protect herself" and the group.

"It was tough and I think she kept a lot of it to herself, which, you know, is fine, she was obviously trying to protect herself and protect the group and protect everyone around her.

"But it's tough when you hear how much somebody has been struggling and you don’t necessarily know the extent of it because you’re so wrapped up in this world that you’re all in and you’ve got enough going on individually. Each person’s sort of dealing with their own stuff," she said.

"So it was kind of tough to see that that's where it ended up for her, but yeah, she went into rehab, she got herself back and we did the last tour together and that was lovely."

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Walsh added that she does think Harding's time in the chart-topping group did affect her mental health.

"Yeah, I feel like it depends on your personality as to whether or not you can handle all of that on top and I think maybe for her it was just a lot to deal with on top of everything else, which is totally understandable.

"It's difficult, if you ask what was the hardest part for me, it was probably just not… the time when you peek and you can’t just live a normal life.

"That annoyed me because I didn’t want to be sheltered and not be able to go and do stuff with my family, but then I realised you just have to front it out and do it." 

"Otherwise you become a recluse - you’re not really the person you were before."

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