Drag performer George Ward, known by his stage name Cherry Valentine, has died at the age of 28, his family said.
ard, who died on Sunday, appeared on the second season of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK before launching a television career and hosting the BBC documentary Gypsy Queen And Proud.
A statement from his family said: “It is with heartbreaking and profound sadness that I have to announce that our George – Cherry Valentine – has tragically passed away.
“This will come as a profound shock to most people and we understand there is no easy way to announce this.
“As his family, we are still processing his death and our lives will never be the same.
“We understand how much he is loved and how many lives he has inspired and touched. We only ask for your patience and prayers during this time. We love you Georgie.”
Ward grew up in Darlington, County Durham as part of the Traveler community and qualified as a mental health nurse in 2015 before beginning his career in drag.
In December 2020, Ward was announced as one of 12 contestants taking part in the second series of the UK version of RuPaul’s Drag Race.
In his introductory video for the show, he described his alter ego Cherry Valentine as “glamor”, “dark” and “gothic”.
video of the day
He said his work as a nurse “put me in the right position to understand people a little bit better.
“When you’re a drag queen, you work with people. And to understand people, I think you go the extra mile.”
After appearing on the show, Ward teamed up with the BBC to produce a documentary exploring his Traveler heritage.
He revisited the community he left at the age of 18 in the 2022 special entitled Gypsy Queen And Proud.
He has also made public appearances, appearing in music videos by artists such as Charli XCX.
Drag queen and author Glamrou, real name Amrou Al-Kadhi, said of Cherry Valentine: “Stirred up by the devastating news about Cherry Valentine. I can not believe it. A true queen. Rest in peace my love.”
Fiona Campbell, controller of BBC Three, which broadcasts RuPaul’s Drag Race UK, paid tribute to former contestant Cherry Valentine following his death.
She said: “We are all shocked and heartbroken to hear the news of the death of George, known to many as Cherry Valentine. A fan favorite and an inspiration to so many, we were privileged to have worked with him on BBC Three. He will be greatly missed by his many fans and friends. Our deepest sympathy goes out to his family and friends at this difficult time.”
https://www.independent.ie/style/celebrity/celebrity-news/drag-race-star-cherry-valentine-real-name-george-ward-dies-aged-28-42011602.html Drag race star Cherry Valentine, real name George Ward, has died aged 28