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Former journalist loses cancer battle aged 45

A former journalist at a regional daily has lost her three-year battle with kidney cancer at the age of 45.

Sharon McCord worked at Glasgow-based The Herald for more than 10 years as a feature writer, columnist and restaurant reviewer, writing under the nom de plume Sara Villiers.

She started at the paper after leaving Glasgow University, where she was involved with the student newspaper there, but left journalism around 10 years ago after feeling the industry was becoming “more restrained”.

Sharon died on Sunday after losing her battle with kidney cancer, with her writing about the disease on her Kidney Cancer Info blog.

An obituary by Allan Brown has been published in The Herald which pays tribute to her.

He wrote: “Before long, every media outlet was clamouring for a young, opinionated female contributor. Sharon had opinions in spades; and, no doubt, opinions about spades.

“She rolled high for more than a decade, writing on everything from literature to interiors to nutrition; even on one memorable occasion the Bonusprint Handicap Steeplechase at Ayr racecourse: ‘The empty racetrack, with its powerful aroma of hamburgers and onions,’ she wrote ‘has more the benign air of a deserted funfair than a field of squandered dreams.’

“She left journalism 10 years ago, dismayed that what had once offered glee, travel and mischief was growing more restrained.

“She was taken under the wing of Neil Baxter and became in 2007 deputy secretary at the Royal Institute of Architects in Edinburgh, with particular responsibility for its publications.

“In 2009, while on holiday in Turkey, she was hit by a bout of fatigue that eventually was attributed to renal cell carcinoma. She underwent a battery of tests and treatments, often with contradictory results, before being told her cancer was terminal.

“Typically, her response was clear-sighted and pragmatic: she set out to live as fully as she could, while she could.”

Following her diagnosis, she moved to an apartment overlooking Portobello beach, near Edinburgh, and started the blog about her illness.

She leaves husband Robin, her sisters Jackey and Louise, brother Jason and her parents.

The full obituary can be read here.