Cherry Valentine, one of the stars of the second season of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK, has died aged 28, his family have confirmed. He died on 18 September.
In a statement to the press, the family of the drag star, whose name was George Ward, said “it is with the most heart-wrenching and deepest sadness to inform you 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 for this to be announced,” added the statement. “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 best known for appearing as Cherry Valentine on the hit BBC Three version of the U.S. show hosted by RuPaul Charles. He also hosted his own documentary, Cherry Valentine: Gypsy Queen and Proud, which aired on BBC Three.
He was born in Darlington in 1993 and grew up in a traveller community, having spoken openly on RuPaul’s Drag Race UK about drag not being accepted in the community and, conversely, hiding his traveller background from the LGBTQ+ community.
Valentine trained as a mental health nurse in 2015 and helped with the Covid-19 vaccine rollout in 2020, keeping a video diary when the show was shut down for several months due to Covid.