After that business was settled, Sarah received a shocking phone-call from a UK journalist. Her friends were baffled as to what could be wrong, but when Joanna Hartman returned from England and immediately recognised Sarah's face from magazines and billboards, minds began to boggle. It wasn't until Catherine discovered that Sarah had an ex-fiance in England that the final piece of the puzzle came together. It seemed that Sarah had been engaged to a Lord and they were the toast of the celebrity circuit, so her jilting him was big news. Sarah decided to pack up and leave when she heard that Lord Steven Harrow, her ex-fiance, was on his way to Erinsborough. She left Catherine a note and headed out the back door, only to be photographed by the journalist. She was talked into staying by her sister, but panic set in again when a letter from Steven arrived. Sarah, in a desperate bid to get Steven out of her life forever, asked Danni if she wouldn't mind 'lending' her Luke, so he could pose as her boyfriend. Danni was reluctant at first, but eventually agreed to the plan. When Steven did arrive, he quickly noticed that Luke and Sarah had little chemistry with each other, and her plan was foiled. After talking things through, Steven and Sarah worked through their problems and agreed to part as friends - however, Toadfish Rebecchi's infatuation with his stunning neighbour led to trouble, when Toadie tracked down Steven at his hotel and attempted to pick a fight with him.
With Steven gone, Toadie wrote an anonymous love letter to Sarah, hoping to win her over. Sarah, having found out about how Toadie tried to protect her from Steven, thanked him by giving him a peck on the cheek in the coffee shop. Seen by his friends, he pretended that Sarah was madly in love with him and lapped up the attention he got, unaware of the damage he would later cause Sarah. When Sarah eventually found out, she was furious with Toadie and told him that she wanted nothing more to do with him. Later she realised how much she hurt him, after he confessed everything and apologised, and said that she would love to be friends with him - but nothing more. When Luke left to look after a sick Danni in Malaysia, he announced that his room would be taken over by an old friend, Vince DeBolfo. When Vince arrived, Catherine, Jo and Sarah soon realised he was the housemate from hell! Obsessed with working out, and himself, he treated the women like objects and drove them to the brink of insanity. They soon decided to hatch a plan and get rid of him. Catherine came up with the idea of pretending to have a boyfriend from jail released, and Vince was so scared of what this guy may do to him, that he decided to leave of his own accord.
The girls were now looking for a new housemate, so when new teacher Lisa Elliot arrived, they desperately wanted her to move in with them. However, their constant squabbling and bickering put her off. The girls decided to make up for Lisa's sake, and she moved in a few days later. When Catherine cheated on her boyfriend Mal Kennedy with local bad boy Darren Stark, Sarah supported her and gave her the same advice she was given by Catherine over Steven -- don't run away from your problems. Catherine caught Mal at the airport before he was due to leave and said she wanted to come with him. He allowed her two and the pair got back together, and started a new life in England. With Catherine gone, the girls were looking for a new housemate. When Lisa offered Darren the spare room, Sarah was far from impressed. Sarah palled up with schoolgirl Hannah Martin to give her a makeover, causing problems with Philip who wasn't keen on his daughter wearing make-up. Later, she went on an unsuccessful girls' night out with Lisa and Libby Kennedy - they all got chatted up by the same guy, Alex, who gave them all his business card. Although the three girls agreed to burn the cards, they later caught each other sneaking out to find them.
After landing a job as a barmaid at Lou Carpenter's pub, Sarah realised the work didn't exactly suit her. She found it very difficult to be spoken down to by the male customers and caused Lou a great deal of headaches when she accused one man of sexual harassment. Sarah quit this job and decided to apply for the job as receptionist to Dr. Karl Kennedy at the local practice. Marlene Kratz wasn't exactly beaming when Karl decided to take on another receptionist to job-share with her, so the meddling busy body went out of her way to make Sarah's first day a nightmare. Sarah eventually settled into life at the surgery, much to Marlene's annoyance. When Marlene got wind of the Receptionist of the Year competition, she and Sarah both entered and were driving Karl mad by continually competing against each other. When Marlene did some quick thinking and saved a patient's life, she earned extra points in the competition, but she got a shock when she didn't become a finalist. Sarah thought that she wouldn't even be considered, as she never received a letter from them. However, Marlene didn't tell Sarah that glamour was something they were looking for and she decided to take some awful photos of Sarah on a polaroid camera for her entry. When Sarah found out, she was furious and submitted one of her old modelling photos instead, modestly snapping at Marlene that if glamour was indeed a big element of the contest, she would beat her hands down.
When Sarah was approached by the organisers of the "Receptionist of the Year" competition, she was appalled to learn that it was set up to find a model, not a competent receptionist. She told the representatives that she knew more about modelling than anyone, and would never go back to that life. When left alone at the surgery, Sarah faced an emergency, as a patient suffered breathing problems and she quickly had to hook him up to a respirator. She took matters into her own hands, despite not having any qualifications, and successfully managed to control the situation. Karl praised her for keeping her cool in the difficult situation and she decided to get some basic first-aid training. After Lisa left Ramsay Street and moved to Hobart, Sarah replaced the missing company with a stray dog she found. She and Ben Atkins later allowed boring Robert to move in, but he wasn't all that he seemed. The housemates were worried when they heard him talking to himself from inside his room, but it turned out that he was practising his ventriloquism act. But Bob didn't exactly take a shine to the doll and destroyed it, forcing Robert to leave, devastated. So the house was looking for a new resident once again - Ben put Sarah under pressure by forcing her to let his new girlfriend Angela McGregor move in. Sarah was against couples living together, but she agreed to a trial. However, Sarah was forced to reveal to Ben that Angela had gone back to her ex-boyfriend so they starting interviewing other applicants for the room. A good looking policeman named Matt Compton impressed Sarah, but Ben was dead against the idea after Matt pulled him over for driving an unregistered car.
Matt did end up moving in, and he and Sarah were so attracted to each other that they both agreed they shouldn't be living under the same roof if they wanted a successful relationship together. Sarah and Matt tried to keep their relationship a secret from Ben, but they had such a great time at the police graduation ball that they were worried he would suspect something. Sarah eventually came clean to Ben, but before Ben got to decide if Matt could stay, Sarah was told by her boyfriend that he was leaving Erinsborough and being transferred to a country station in Port Campbell. Matt mustered up some courage and asked Sarah if she would leave with him. With Ben's sister Caitlin having just arrived, Sarah thought that maybe now would be a good time for a fresh start but she decided against it and they agreed on having a long-distance relationship. However, a matter of weeks later, Sarah and Matt decided to call off their relationship, as it simply wasn't working.
Whilst working late at the surgery one day, Sarah let everything get on top of her and broke down and cried. Karl came out to comfort her, and whilst listing her good character traits, the pair unexpectedly shared a kiss. After the moment had passed, Karl told her that he was married and that nothing could come of it. Sarah quickly agreed and said that it was a silly mistake, and that they should carry on as if nothing had happened - but this became increasingly hard for Sarah to do, as she had fallen for Karl. With his wife Susan away during the weeks working at the high school in Wangaratta, it gave Karl and Sarah some alone time. The tension in the surgery became too much, and Karl considered hiring a new receptionist. Sarah became more and more stressed and needed to confess her feelings, so she confided in Ben that she was in love with a married man. When Karl found out about the confession, he was furious with her, worried that Ben would soon manage to work it all out. When Susan returned from Wangaratta, she confronted an awkward Sarah about her romantic problems, unaware it was her husband she was in love with.
Trying to put everything behind them, Karl tried to encourage Sarah's interest in golf, which made Susan suspicious. Susan cracked a joke about the two of them having an affair, and Karl over-reacted. Karl realised after this that he would have to be more careful around Susan. Further suspicions were aroused when Libby saw Sarah trying on a ring at the jeweller's, and Karl buying it for her. After being confronted, Karl managed to explain his way out of it by revealing that it was a gift for Susan and that Sarah had similar hands. A few days later, Karl and Sarah were taking part in a golf tournament. When Sarah leaned back against the guard rail on the edge of the cliff, it gave way behind her and she plunged over the edge. As she was gripping onto the side of the cliff, Karl managed to bring her back to solid ground, and a few days later, she confessed to Ben that she was in love with Karl.
Unable to cope with the pressure, Sarah offered her resignation from the surgery, leaving Harold Bishop to fill her place. More residents were becoming suspicious of the amount of time Karl and Sarah were spending together so she then decided she needed space from Karl, and stayed indoors. She confessed everything to Toadie, who was distraught, as he had to choose between siding with his friend Sarah, or his loco-parentis Susan! Upon hearing of her resignation from the surgery, Susan couldn't understand what would have made Sarah leave her job. Sarah wouldn't give away any details to anyone. She then decided to up and leave Erinsborough, as everything became too much for her -- so she disappeared to a caravan park down the coast. In desperate need of money, she asked Toadie to pawn her jewellery, but soon found that running away from her problems was doing her no good. Karl found out where she was staying and went to see her. He convinced her to return to Erinsborough and offered her a lift back, but due to the unreliability of the Thunderbird, they broke down and were forced to spend the night in a motel together.
Billy Kennedy told his mum that Karl and Sarah were having an affair, something which had been accidentally revealed by Toadie, and at Phil and Ruth's wedding, Susan confronted Karl about it... and the truth finally came out. As the gossip started, Sarah found out how much it divided everyone. Libby forced her best friend Drew Kirk to choose between her and Sarah, and Susan became a wreck. Sarah had since completed her nursing diploma and scored a job at Erinsborough Hospital, which thankfully meant she didn't have to spend her days in Ramsay Street surrounded by whispers and dirty looks. She threw herself into the work and organised an outing for the hospital children with Joel Samuels. Joel persuaded Libby to cover the story for the Erinsborough News, but she only agreed to do so if Sarah wasn't present, leaving Sarah to realise that it would be a long time before her life was back to normal.
After her bag was snatched whilst out shopping, she got a phone-call from the police saying it had been found and asking if she would come and collect it. Of course, it wasn't the police who called, and Sarah's house was robbed while she was out. Toadie managed to catch the young thief by dressing up as a woman! When Sarah later started receiving boxes of frogs on her doorstep, she wondered who could have known about her childhood nickname, Froggy. Sarah was also having problems living with Toadie, and so they decided to go on a dinner date with Toadie's girlfriend Karen, and a guy named Alex Fenton, who Sarah had been working closely with at the hospital. However, Karen and Alex had a terrible evening as Sarah and Toadie spent the entire time bickering. Meanwhile, Sarah had been catching glimpses of a strange man following her and her housemates, but she put it down to her over-active imagination. However, she soon realised that she did indeed have a stalker. Sarah began to suspect that Alex was her mystery stalker and so was relieved when he cheated on her with Karen, giving her a good excuse to end things. However, it was later revealed that the stalker was in fact one of the patients from the hospital, Richard, who had been on the psychiatric ward and was grateful to Sarah for talking to him. After he was arrested, Sarah saw him at the police station and decided to drop the charges, feeling that she couldn't blame him for his actions.
Whilst working at the hospital, Sarah found a patient, Deirdre, in cardiac arrest. When no one came to her assistance after pressing the emergency button, she treated the patient herself and saved her life. Sarah was pleased with what she had done, but due to her lack of qualifications to perform heart massage, she was reprimanded for rescuing the patient and suspended from her job. Despite knowing the trouble it would cause, she went to Karl for advice and he encouraged her to fight her corner. Her troubles weren't over as Paul McClain and Tad Reeves located a nude picture of Sarah on the Internet. Realising the picture was a fake, Sarah got her own back on Tad by taking a picture of him in the shower and spreading it around Erinsborough High.
After being reinstated at the hospital, Sarah's mother Bess O'Brien turned up in Ramsay Street and decided to stay, also revealing to everyone her daughter's real name - Shakira! Bess was sorry for neglecting Sarah and decided to become the perfect mother. However, relations between mother and daughter were strained to say the least, as Sarah found it difficult to cope with her mother's attitudes and interference, especially when she wanted to start a campaign about the closure of the local reservoir. Bess returned home soon after, happy in the knowledge that she had gone some way to making peace with her daughter.
With Karl and Susan's relationship steadily getting back on track, the last thing they needed was Sarah and Susan at loggerheads with each other! When Susan accidentally ran over Sarah's dog Bob, Sarah believed it was deliberate and Susan was distraught that she could even think such a thing. Sarah eventually accepted that it was an accident, but the incident went some way to repairing some of the tension between Sarah and the Kennedys. Lou later persuaded Sarah and Joel to promote his new alcoholic drink, Pear Passion, for him. They reluctantly agreed, but the promotion was a disaster, as Sarah and Joel, dressed as Adam and Eve, were arguing at the top of their lungs over whether or not Joel's girlfriend Sally Upton should move into Number 30 as the curtain rolled back.
Later, Bess set Sarah up with an aid worker she knew from Medicins Sans Frontieres. Sarah was expecting a hippie like her mother, but Peter Hannay was closer to being the man of her dreams. After a whirlwind romance, he proposed to Sarah and she accepted. However, a matter of days before the wedding, she admitted to Toadie that she couldn't go through with it as she was still in love with Karl. Toadie talked some sense into her, saying that she could never have Karl, as he was in love with Susan, and that she would never be happy unless she got him out of her system. The wedding was back on, but disaster struck on the big day. The wedding car failed to arrive, so Karl offered to give Sarah a lift to the church in the Thunderbird. The car broke down once again and so the unlikely pair ended up being brought to the church in a police car, much to the surprise of everyone and the humiliation of Susan. The ceremony went off without a hitch however and Sarah prepared to say her farewells. Whilst getting ready to go in the vestry, Karl popped in and told Sarah how beautiful she looked. The pair couldn't resist and kissed again, and were almost caught by Peter. After the wedding reception, Sarah left Erinsborough with Peter to start a new life in Amsterdam.
In 2001, Karl and Sarah were to meet again at Mal and Cath's wedding, where Sarah revealed that she and Peter had had their first child, Antigone. In 2003, Sarah unexpectedly contacted Karl to ask about a reference. It transpired that she and Peter had separated and she had moved to Norwich, where she was making a fresh start and looking for work. A spiteful Susan reworded some of the reference before Karl sent it and so, by way of revenge, Sarah sent them several bags of manure, which were dumped on their front garden.