George Ward death: who was RuPaul’s Drag Race UK star Cherry Valentine - when did they die?

Cherry Valentine, whose real name was George Ward, appeared on the second season of the UK version of drag queen competition TV show RuPaul’s Drag Race

<p>Cherry Valentine has passed away at age 28, it has been announced (Photo: Instagram/@thecherryvalentine)</p>

Cherry Valentine has passed away at age 28, it has been announced (Photo: Instagram/@thecherryvalentine)

It has been announced that RuPaul’s Drag Race UK star Cherry Valentine, whose real name was George Ward, has passed away at the age of 28.

Valentine’s death was confirmed in a statement released by their family, who said that their lives would “never be the same”.

This is everything you need to know.

Who was Cherry Valentine?

Many will know Valentine as the one of 12 contestants on the second season of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK in 2021.

Valentine started performing in drag in 2018, but before that they qualified as a mental health nurse in 2015 working for the NHS, and helped out during the UK’s Covid-19 vaccine rollout.

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In a “meet the queens” segment prior to the launch of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK season two, Valentine said: “I’m not just a drag queen, I’m a fully qualified mental health nurse too. I believe that everyone could do with a bit of therapy (especially now), and I think that being a nurse has helped create my drag and drag helped my nursing.

Cherry Valentine took part in the second season of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK (Photo: BBC)

“I understand both myself and other people a lot more now. During the pandemic, I put my nursing kit back on and went back to the frontline and did what I could do to help.”

Explaining why they started doing drag, Valentine said: “Growing up on a gypsy camp, my view of life was really different to others, and doing drag has really opened my eyes, and given me a new lease of life.

“I never thought I’d be doing this. I just thought I’d grow up, do my dad’s job, do a few cars, so to be sat here right now, I feel really proud of myself.

“The world is now my stage and that’s exciting. It gives me shivers!”

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After appearing on drag race, Valentine starred in a BBC documentary that was released earlier this year, called Cherry Valentine: Gypsy Queen and Proud.

The documentary explored Valentine’s heritage as a Traveller, and followed them as they returned to their roots in the Gypsy community, after they left when they were rejected for being gay.

Earlier this year, Cherry Valentine released a documentary exploring their Traveller heritage (Photo: Instagram/@thecherryvalentine)

Speaking to the BBC, Valentine said that it was “really tough” growing up in a Traveller camp.

They said: “At the minute I’m very fluid in my gender… and growing up wasn’t easy.

“There were times where I left home for a bit and just had a bit of a meltdown.

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“In the Traveller community, there’s a lot of pressure on young people to marry, to settle down, to have a family and to get a job to support the family.

“I think that’s why I used to lie so much and say I had girlfriends.

“People would say, “Oh you’re going to college and that’s really good but when are you getting a girlfriend? When are you getting married? When are you going to start a family?””

When did Cherry Valentine die?

It was announced on 23 September that Valentine had passed away five days earlier, on 18 September, at the age of 28.

Their family said in a statement: “It is with the most heart-wrenching and deepest sadness to inform you that our George - Cherry Valentine - has tragically passed away.

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“This will come as a profound shock to most people and we understand there is no easy way for this to be announced.

Cherry Valentine’s family described their death as a ‘profound shock’ (Photo: BBC)

“As [their] family, we are still processing [their] death and our lives will never be the same.

“We understand how much [they are] loved and how many lives [they] inspired and touched. All we ask for is your patience and your prayers in this time.

“We love you Georgie.”

Details regarding Valentine’s death have not been shared.

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Tributes for Cherry Valentine

Following the news of their death, Valentine’s friends, family, fans and fellow drag queens have posted their tributes online.

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