- Film & TV
- 23 Sep 22
Appearing on the second series of the UK Drag Race, Cherry Valentine was a much-loved, well-respected queen, who greatly helped LGBTQ+ members of the Traveller community.
Drag queen George Ward, known by his stage name Cherry Valentine, has died at the age of 28. His family announced the news, revealing he passed away on Sunday, September 18.
Ward appeared on the second series of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK, and shortly afterwards launched a TV career. The performer also fronted the powerful BBC documentary Gypsy Queen And Proud.
A statement from Ward's family reads: “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 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.”
Raised in Darlington, County Durham as part of the Traveller community, Ward qualified as a mental health nurse in 2015, before pursuing his career in drag.
In December 2020, Ward was announced as one of the 12 contestants competing in the second series of RuPaul's Drag Race UK, which he starred in alongside Lawrence Chaney, Bimini Bon-Boulash and Veronica Green.
In his introduction to the show, George described his Cherry Valentine alter-ego as “glamour”, “dark” and “gothic."
The queen said his 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.”
Ward was the second queen eliminated from the show. Following his Drag Race appearance, George joined the BBC to create a documentary exploring his Traveller heritage, where he revisited the community he left at the age of 18.
The performer also featured in a number of public shows and appeared in music videos by artists such as Charli XCX.
We are utterly heartbroken to hear the shocking news that Cherry Valentine has died.
As we try and process this news, our first thoughts are with their loved ones.
Sending our love and condolences to their family and friends. 💔
RIP Cherry 🌹#CherryValentine #DragRaceUK pic.twitter.com/1MjGXOesj8
— RuPaul’s Drag Race UK Fans (@rpdrukfans) September 23, 2022
Charlotte Hawkins, Good Morning Britain presenter, was among those paying tribute to Ward, saying: "Very sad to hear that Cherry Valentine has died, aged just 28.
"We met back in June at Epsom - so full of life then, it's hard to believe. Sending love to George's family & friends, just heartbreaking."
Glamrou, fellow drag queen and author said: "Winded by the devastating news about Cherry Valentine. I can't believe it. A true queen. Rest in peace my dear."
Very sad news. Irish Traveller, Nurse, and drag queen, George Ward, who appeared on Th Paul's drag face as Cherry Valentine, has passed away suddenly. George created visibility for LGBT Travellers in the UK and is a huge loss to us all.#RIPCherry
— Martin (Beanz) Warde (@martinbeanz) September 23, 2022
Comedian, writer, actor, and Irish Traveller, Martin Warde, commented: "Very sad news. Irish Traveller, Nurse, and drag queen, George Ward, who appeared on Ru Paul's drag face as Cherry Valentine, has passed away suddenly. George created visibility for LGBT Travellers in the UK and is a huge loss to us all. #RIPCherry"
Fiona Campbell, controller of BBC Three, who broadcast RuPaul's Drag Race UK, described Ward as a "fan favourite," saying: "We were privileged to have worked with him at BBC Three. He will be hugely missed by his many fans and friends. Our deepest sympathies are with his family and friends at this difficult time."
- Film & TV
- 23 Aug 22
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