George Ward, a performer who starred on BBC’s RuPaul’s Drag Race UK as Cherry Valentine, has died. He was 28.
In a statement released by his agent on Friday, Ward’s family wrote, “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,” the statement continued.
The family added, “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 30 November 1993-18 September 2022.” An official cause of death for Ward was not revealed.
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The BBC also expressed their condolences in an official statement as well. “We are all shocked and heartbroken to hear the news of the passing of George, known to many as Cherry Valentine,” the organization wrote.
“A fan favourite and an inspiration to so many, we were privileged to have worked with him at BBC Three. He will be hugely missed by his many fans and friends,” the BBC continued. “Our deepest sympathies are with his family and friends at this difficult time.”
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Ward, who was born in Darlington in the northeast area of England in what he described on RuPaul’s Drag Race UK as a “gypsy camp,” was featured in six episodes of the show’s second season in 2020, where he first introduced Cherry Valentine to fans.
“For those of you who have said that I have not been doing drag long enough, take a look. I’ve been doing it as long as I need. Cherry Valentine, she is everything. She is glamour, she’s dark, she’s gothic,” the star said during an appearance on the show.
Ward also noted that he was qualified as a mental health nurse, explaining, “I am not just a drag queen. I qualified as a mental health nurse in 2015.”
“I think it put me in the right position to understand people a bit more, and if you’re a drag queen you’re working with people and don’t understand people, I think you go the extra mile,” Ward added.
The television star also expressed gratitude for being a part of the reality show, stating, “I never thought that I would be doing this. … To be sitting here right now, I feel really proud. Really proud. The world is now my stage, and I’m going to use it. That’s exciting, it gives me shivers.”