Drag performer George Ward, who appeared on RuPaul’s Drag Race UK under his stage name Cherry Valentine, has died aged 28.
Ward’s family released a statement addressing the ‘profound shock’.
It reads: “It is with the most heart-wrenching and deepest sadness to inform you that our George – Cherry Valentine – has tragically passed away.
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“This will come as a profound shock to most people and we understand there is no easy way for this to be announced.”
It continues: “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.”
At the time of writing, Ward’s cause of death is unclear.
Thousands have taken to Twitter and paid tribute to the drag performer, with one penning: “So heartbroken, RIP angel.”
A second said: “OMG I just watched that season of Drag Race UK. So incredibly sad, she seemed like such a beautiful soul. My [heart] goes out to family and friends.”
“My heart goes out to Cherry’s family in this tough time. Sending love and strength,” a third wrote. “Cherry was a talented artist who touched our hearts and soul and she and her art will forever live in our hearts. Rest in peace, Cherry Valentine.”
Fellow Drag Race UK star Cheryl Hole also addressed the tragic news, tweeting: “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.”
Ward was raised in Darlington, County Durham, and was a part of the Traveller community. Before pursuing his career in drag, Ward qualified as a mental health nurse in 2015.
Ward appeared in the second series of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK and following this, he fronted the BBC documentary Gypsy Queen And Proud.
The show’s description read: “At 18, George Ward left the Gypsy community. He felt rejected after coming out as gay.
“Leaving his Gypsy identity behind, he invented Cherry Valentine, a drag alter ego.
“Now, he wants to find out if he can be accepted as a queer Gypsy and feel proud.”
When appearing on RuPaul’s, he described his alter ego as ‘gothic’, ‘glamorous’ and ‘dark’.
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