George Ward, star of the British version of “RuPaul’s Drag Race”, has died at the age of 28, according to a family statement.
Ward, who rose to fame as Cherry Valentine on the BBC show RuPaul’s Drag Race UK, died on September 18, his family said.
In a statement released by his agent, his family said: “It is with heartbreak and deep sadness that I announce the tragic passing of our George – Cherry Valentine.
“This will be a profound shock to most people and we know there is no easy way to declare this.
“As his family, we are still dealing with his death and our lives will never be the same.”
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The statement continued: “We know how much he has been loved and how many lives he has inspired and touched. In the meantime, we ask only your patience and prayers. We love you George from November 30, 1993 to 2022. September 18.”
Born in Darlington, North East England, Ward grew up in a traveller community and has been dragging his feet since he was a child.
He appears in six episodes of the show on BBC Three in 2020-2021. In his introduction video, he describes his alter ego Cherry Valentine as “everything” and says, “She’s charming, she’s a club kid, she’s dark, she’s goth.”
Before appearing on Drag Race, Ward worked as a mental health nurse. During the Covid-19 pandemic, he worked in the vaccination sector.
Earlier this year, Ward appeared in the BBC documentary Cherry Lover: Gypsy Queen and Pride, where he talked about leaving the traveller community after being rejected as gay at the age of 18.
In a statement to CNN, Bunning said of her client: “As his agent, it goes without saying that my heart breaks. George is a truly special person with tremendous talent (and) Bright future. He illuminated a room, touched countless lives, and few can forget his infectious laughter, which I will miss dearly.”
Fiona Campbell, head of BBC Three, also offered her condolences. In a statement on the BBC’s website, she said: “We are all shocked and heartbroken to hear of the passing of George, known to many as Cherry Valentine.
“As a fan favourite and an inspiration to many, we have the privilege of working with him on BBC 3.
“He will be greatly missed by many of his fans and friends. Our deepest sympathies go out to his family and friends during this difficult time.”
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