RuPaul’s Drag Race UK star George Ward known as Cherry Valentine dies aged 28

The RuPaul’s Drag Race UK star stole the hearts of the nation in 2021.

The drag performer George Ward, who was better known as the iconic Cherry Valentine, has died at the age of 28.

Ward’s family announced the sad news in a statement that said the star died on Sunday.

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Ward became a fan favourite when he appeared on the second series of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK and went on to kick off a career in TV, most recently hosting the BBC documentary Gypsy Queen and Proud.

Cherry Valentine has passed away at age 28, it has been announced (Photo: Instagram/@thecherryvalentine)

So, how did Cherry Valentine die? Here’s everything we know about the tragic news so far.

Who was Cherry Valentine?

Ward was raised in Darlington, County Durham as part of the Traveller community and qualified as a mental health nurse in 2015.

They were announced as one of the 12 contestants competing in the UK spin off of RuPaul’s Drag Race in 2020, and described their alter ego Cherry Valentine as ‘glabour’, ‘dark’ and ‘gothic’.

They spoke about their work as a nurse and said it had: “put me in the right position to be able to understand people a bit more. If you are a drag queen you are working with people. And to understand people I think you go the extra mile.”

Following their appearance on the show Ward performed publicly and appeared in music videos alongside the likes of Charli XCX.

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It’s also been reported that following their appearance on the show George Ward teamed up with the BBC to produce a documentary exploring their Traveller heritage, revisiting the community they left at 18.

What has George Ward’s family said?

Their family released a statement announcing the star’s passing: “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. 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.”

Where did Cherry Valentine place in RuPaul’s Drag Race UK?

Cherry Valentine took part in the second season of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK (Photo: BBC)
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Cherry Valentine came 12th place in the overall competition. The series was won by Lawrence Chaney with the popular Bimini Bon-Boulash and Tayce coming as the runners-up.

Casting for the second series of RuPaul’s Drag Race was closed on 15 November 2019, however, production was suspended in mid 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The cast including Cherry Valentine alongside 11 new queens was announced on 16 December 2020 with the series finally premiering in 2021 on BBC Three.