George Ward, better known as drag queen Cherry Valentine, has died at the age of 28.
Most important points:
- George Ward, aka Cherry Valentine, took part in the second season of Ru Paul’s Drag Race UK
- Drag artists from around the world have shared their condolences
- Mx Ward, a qualified nurse, returned to the front lines to help during the COVID-19 pandemic
Mx Ward competed as their drag alter ego in the second series of Ru Paul’s Drag Race UK, which aired in 2021.
“It is with the most heartbreaking and deepest sadness to inform you that our George – Cherry Valentine – has passed away tragically,” Mx Ward’s family said in a statement.
“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 inspired and touched. All we ask is for your patience and your prayers at this time We love you Georgie.”
The family has not disclosed the cause of death of Mx Ward.
Other Drag Race participants have shared memories and condolences for Mx Ward.
“So shocked to hear about Cherry Valentine’s passing. It is so incredibly sad. She was an incredible artist and her impact will be felt for a long time to come. Rest in peace Queen,” said Shea Couleé of Drag Race US.
Drag Race All Stars season six competitor Scarlet Envy remembered Mx Ward as “a healer”.
“So very sad to hear of Cherry Valentine’s passing. You were a healer, what a beautiful thing to be. Sending love to family, friends and the community as we mourn the loss of this beautiful person.”
A condolence register on Mx Ward’s official website contains over 1,500 posts at the time of writing.
Mx Ward became a qualified mental health nurse in 2015, returning to the front lines after COVID-19 halted production of Drag Race UK for several months.
Born and raised in a Traveler community in Darlington, UK, Mx Ward turned their Drag Race performance into a television documentary.
Cherry Valentine: Gypsy Queen and Proud premiered on BBC Three in January this year, detailing their experiences growing up with LGBTQI+ in the community.
“My first memories of playing with all the boys at one of the camps, I felt like I had to play with the girls in the trailer with the dolls and do my hair and I just never felt like I was doing it right heard,” Mx Ward said in a promotional video for the documentary.
BBC Three Controller Fiona Campbell shared her condolences on behalf of the BBC.
“We were all shocked and heartbroken to hear of the passing of George, known to many as Cherry Valentine,” she said.
“A fan favorite and an inspiration to many, we were privileged to work with him on BBC Three. He will be greatly missed by his many fans and friends. Our deepest condolences go out to his family and friends in this difficult time.”
Mx Ward’s family has started a GoFundMe campaign to raise money to hold a vigil in their honor.