George Ward, well known by his stage name Cherry Valentine, a member of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK, has passed away at the age of 28.
Before beginning a TV career and starring in the BBC documentary Gypsy Queen And Proud, Ward made an appearance in the second season of the program.
“It is with the most heartbreaking and profound regret that we inform you that our George – Cherry Valentine – has unfortunately passed away,” his family stated in a statement.
The performer passed away on Sunday, and according to his family, most people will be “profoundly shocked” by his loss.
Their statement added, “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. All we ask is for your patience and your prayers in this time. We love you Georgie.”
Ward was raised in Darlington, County Durham as part of the Traveller and qualified as a mental health nurse in 2015 before pursuing his drag career.
In December 2020, he was announced as one of the 12 contestants competing in the UK version of RuPaul’s Drag Race, which he appeared in alongside Lawrence Chaney, Bimini Bon-Boulash and Veronica Green.
In his introductory video, Ward described his Cherry Valentine character as “glamour”, “dark” and “gothic”.
“If you are a drag queen you are working with people. And to understand people I think you go the extra mile,” he said.
Ward was the second competitor to be eliminated from the show after performing in the Rusical and delivering a runway look in front of guest judge Sheridan Smith.
Following his appearance, Ward joined the BBC to create a documentary exploring his Traveller heritage, in which he revisited the community he left at the age of 18.
He also performed a number of public shows and appeared in music videos by artists such as Charli XCX.
‘A true queen’, ‘just heartbreaking’ and ‘a fan favourite’
Good Morning Britain presenter Charlotte Hawkins was among those paying tribute to Ward, saying: “Very sad to hear that Cherry Valentine has died, aged just 28.
“We met back in June at Epsom – so full of life then, it’s hard to believe. Sending love to George’s family & friends, just heartbreaking.”