TRIBUTES have been paid to West Lothian-born journalist Sharon McCord, who has died in Edinburgh at the age of 45 after losing a battle with kidney cancer.
The girl-about-town columnist, in her guise as Sara Villiers, allowed readers to follow the exploits of her lifestyle while voicing her opinions on the issues of the day.
Sharon set about achieving her ambition of becoming a journalist after leaving her birthplace of Fauldhouse to complete an English degree at the University of Glasgow in 1984.
She quickly established herself as a writer, becoming editor of the university’s Guardian student newspaper.
However, Sharon chose not to complete her degree and instead went freelance, rapidly proving her worth to a wide range of publications.
In 1993, she was runner-up in the Scottish Press Awards’ young journalist of the year category for her work with Scotland on Sunday and the Herald.
She also wrote on food, architecture, design and interiors, and took the only permanent position of her journalistic career as a features writer and TV critic for Scotland on Sunday’s Spectrum magazine in 1998.
It lasted only a year, with Sharon returning to freelancing. The list of publications that she contributed to continued to expand, taking in titles including the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland’s (RIAS) Prospect, the Museums Journal and a catering magazine.
She left the newspaper industry in 2004, branching out to work with BuildStore on its internet site before moving to the Young Scot charity.
The renowned writer then joined the RIAS at the end of 2007 in a marketing and communications role.
She was quickly promoted to depute secretary and reinvented the RIAS quarterly magazine. Sharon was subsequently awarded the incorporation’s honorary fellowship for services to journalism and architecture.
RIAS president Sholto Humphries said: “Her work over the past five years has strengthened the organisation and helped deliver a level of public recognition and political respect which is arguably greater than at any time in our long history.”
Sharon started a kidney cancer information blog after being diagnosed with the disease in 2009.
In it she delivered witty accounts of her life and treatment along with facts about the condition. She also supported Maggie’s Cancer Caring Centres, completing a fundraising mile walk this summer.
RIAS boss and friend Neil Baxter said: “She was meticulous in her approach to the organisation of everything, work and life.”
Sharon is survived by husband Robin, her parents Patsy and Jimmy, sisters Jackey and Louise, and brother Jason.