George Ward, who was known as Cherry Valentine on RuPaul’s Drag Race UK, has died at the age of 28, his family announced.
Ward was featured in the show’s second season. She then became a television star and hosted the BBC documentary Gypsy Queen And Proud.
In a statement, his family shared, “It is with deep and heartbreaking sadness that I inform you that our George, Cherry Valentine, has tragically passed away.”
The artist died Sunday, and his family said most people will be “devastated” by his death.
Drag Star Cherry Valentine Died At Age 28
“As his family, we are still dealing with his death, and our lives will never be the same,” the statement continued.
“We know how much he is loved and how much he changed and inspired the lives of many people. We just need your patience and prayers at this time. We love you, Georgie.”
Ward grew up in Darlington, County Durham, as a member of the Traveller community. He graduated in 2015 with a degree in nursing and worked as a mental health nurse before beginning his career as a platoon leader.
In December 2020, it was announced that he would be one of 12 contestants on the U.K. version of RuPaul’s Drag Race. He was featured on the show along with Lawrence Chaney, Bimini Bon-Boulash, and Veronica Green.
In the video introducing himself, Ward said Cherry Valentine was “glamorous,” “dark” and “gothic.”
“People are your job when you’re a drag queen. And I think you have to go the extra mile to understand people,” he said.
Ward was the second contestant to be kicked off the show after doing a musical and runway look for guest judge Sheridan Smith.
After his show, Ward worked with the BBC to make a documentary about his Traveller roots. In it, he returned to the community he left at age 18.
He also appeared in some public shows and was featured in music videos by artists such as Charli CXX
Charlotte Hawkins, the host of Good Morning Britain, was among the people who paid tribute to Ward. She said, “It’s very sad to hear that Cherry Valentine has died at the young age of 28.
“We met in June at Epsom. It’s hard to believe we were so full of life then. Love to George’s family and friends, this is so sad.
Glamrou, whose real name is Amrou al Kadhi and who is also a drag queen and author, said, “The news about Cherry Valentine was very sad. It’s hard to believe. A true queen. Rest in peace my dear.”
The head of BBC Three, which broadcasts RuPaul’s Drag Race UK, Fiona Campbell, called Ward a “fan favorite” and an “inspiration.”
She told us, “At BBC Three, he was a pleasure to work with. He will be greatly missed by his many fans and friends. To his family and friends, our deepest sympathies at this difficult time.”
Cherry Valentine Career
Valentine began performing as a drag queen in 2018. They became licensed as mental health nurses in 2015 and work for the NHS. She also helped launch the COVID-19 vaccine in the United Kingdom.
In December 2020, it was announced that Valentine would be one of the twelve contestants on the second season of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK.
In her “Meet The Queens” video interview for the second season of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK, she said, “Working as a nurse has put me in a position where I can understand people a little bit better, and when you’re a drag queen, you work with people.
Valentine was a Traveller, and she said the “fabulous” women in her family inspired her to become a drag performer. He said, “In the Traveller community, there’s a lot of pressure on young people to get married, settle down, raise a family and get a job to support the family.”
He also said that when he was young, he didn’t think being a drag performer would be a good job. Valentine said on Drag Race UK that he grew up in a strict environment where drag was not accepted. He also said he hid his Traveller heritage in the LGBTQIA+ community because he was afraid of “hate or backlash.”
Of his participation in the show, he said, “I just wanted to show that you can do anything that makes you happy, no matter where you’re from or who you are.”