‘RuPaul’s Drag Race U.K.’ Contestant George Ward, Known as Cherry Valentine, Dies at 28

“RuPaul’s Drag Race U.K.” contestant George Ward, who performed as Cherry Valentine, has died at the age of 28. A cause of death is still unknown.

Ward, who also worked as a mental health nurse, starred in Season 2 of the British “Drag Race” adaptation in 2021. Ward’s agent Emma Bunning confirmed the news of his death, on Sept. 18, to Variety and shared a statement from the actor’s family:

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“It is with the most heart wrenching and deepest sadness to inform you that our George – Cherry Valentine – has tragically passed away,” reads the statement. “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.”

Bunning added: “As his agent, it goes without saying that my heart is broken. George was a truly special person with enormous talent and a bright future ahead. He lit up a room, touched so many peoples lives and few could forget his infectious laugh which I will miss terribly.”

Ward was brought up in Darlington, County Durham, as part of the Traveller community, but left when he was 18. He discussed his upbringing and identities in the BBC documentary “Gypsy Queen and Proud,” which aired in late January.

Ward said in the documentary: “Being LGBT or being something different from the norm in the community, I think it’s so unlucky because it comes from such a traditional place. I say ‘traditional’ but it’s more binary. It’s just very binary — that’s the word. The men are the men and the women are the women and there’s no in between. But we know there’s a lot in between and a lot either side.”

In his introductory video for “Drag Queen,” Valentine said that “she is everything.”

“She’s glamour, she’s club kid, she’s dark, she’s gothic. Look at me, I look like a queen!” declared Valentine, who also added that she qualified as a mental health nurse in 2015 — a position that’s allowed her to better understand other people.

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