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23rd Sep 2022

RuPaul’s Drag Race UK star Cherry Valentine has died aged 28

Steve Hopkins

Cherry’s family released a statement detailing their ‘deepest sadness’

Cherry Valentine, one of the stars of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK, has died at the age of 28.

The performer, real name George Ward, died on Sunday.

They appeared on the second series of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK, before launching a TV career and fronting the BBC documentary Gypsy Queen And Proud.

In a statement made through the star’s agent, Ward’s family 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 & 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.

The statement concluded: “We love you Georgie. 30 November 1993 – 18 September 2022.”

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

They were announced as one of 12 contestants competing in the second series of the UK version of RuPaul’s Drag Race in December 2020 and in their introductory video, Ward described Cherry Valentine as “glamour”, “dark” and “gothic”.

They said their work as a nurse had “put me in that 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.”

After appearing on the show, Ward joined with the BBC to produce a documentary exploring his Traveller heritage, called Gypsy Queen And Proud.

In the 2022 doc, Ward revisited the community they left aged 18.

In A BBC article last year, Ward spoke about the “absolutely fabulous” women within his family and how they inspired them.

“I remember growing up they would always wear heels to go to the corner shop and wear fabulous make up, of course.

“That really pushed me to be more polished and to be more glamorous.”

During the pandemic, Ward was involved with the vaccine rollout, using his qualifications as a nurse to help with the efforts.

“I just love people, I like hearing people’s stories and talking to them,” Ward said.

“Covid was such a massive shock to everyone and I felt, ‘Well, I’m a qualified nurse I need to be doing something.’

“Drag is my passion and my dream but I do love being a nurse – it’s something I’ll always do.”

Ward also performed publicly and appeared in music videos by artists such as Charli XCX.

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