RuPaul’s Drag Race UK star Cherry Valentine dies aged 28

George Ward, more famously known as Drag Race UK star Cherry Valentine, has passed away suddenly.

The image shows drag performer Cherry Valentine wearing a red dress with a high black wig.
Image: @thecherryvalentine via Instagram

Cherry Valentine, who rose to fame with her appearance on season two of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK, passed away suddenly on Sunday 18 September. 

Her family announced the heartbreaking news saying “It is with the most heart-wrenching and deepest sadness to inform you that our George – Cherry Valentine – has tragically passed away,” 

They further stated, “This will come as a profound shock to most people and we understand there is no easy way for this to be announced.”

“As his family, we are still processing his death and our lives will never be the same,” his family continued.

“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.”

George Ward was the second contestant to be eliminated from the second season of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK after performing in the Rusical and delivering a show-stopping runway look in front of iconic guest judge Sheridan Smith. He described his Cherry Valentine drag persona using three words: glamour, dark and gothic. 

After his departure from the show, Ward continued pursuing his television career, leading a documentary titled Gypsy Queen And Proud which aired on the BBC. The feature followed him as he explored his traveller heritage while journeying back to the community he left when he was 18 years old.

Before entering the drag scene, Ward trained and qualified as a mental health nurse, which he said, “put me in a right position to be able to understand people a bit more”

He continued, “If you are a drag queen, you are working with people, and to understand people I think you go the extra mile.”

Fans and friends have paid tribute to Cherry Valentine on Twitter, including fellow drag queen Cheryl Hole who shared, “I never thought I’d have to write something like this about such a talented and beautiful person that was Cherry. We have lost an incredible queen and I’m honestly devastated! RIP @TheCValentine I LOVE YOU ❤️?”

Fiona Campbell, BBC Three Controller, shared on social media, “We are all shocked and heartbroken to hear the news of the passing of George, known to many as Cherry Valentine.”

A fundraiser has been set up on GoFundMe to raise money for a vigil to honour George Ward.

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