Cherry Valentine. (Instagram/Cherry Valentine)
Tributes have been paid to drag queen Cherry Valentine, aka George Ward, who has died aged 28.
Their family announced their death in a statement, saying: “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.”
Ward appeared on the second season of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK and went on to front the BBC documentary Gypsy Queen and Proud,
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.
— RuPaul’s Drag Race UK Fans (@rpdrukfans) September 23, 2022
Tribute from across the drag world and beyond are being posted for Ward, who also worked as a mental health nurse since qualifying in 2015.
World of Wonder, the company behind Drag Race said: “We are heartbroken to learn of the passing of George Ward, AKA Cherry Valentine.
“As an artist, nurse and an activist Cherry will always remain a beloved member of our Drag Race family.
“Cherry’s love and irresistibly infectious laugh touched the lives of so many. Our deepest condolences go out to her family and friends”
I never thought I’d have to write something like this about such a talented and beautiful person that was Cherry. We have lost an incredible queen and I’m honestly devastated!
RIP @TheCValentine I LOVE YOU ️🌹 pic.twitter.com/AI3mWYy7HB
— Cheryl Hole (@CherylHoleQueen) September 23, 2022
Canada’s Drag Race season two contestant eve 6000 wrote: “RIP Cherry Valentine. Absolutely heartbreaking.”
Season four RuPaul’s Drag Race UK Contestant Jonbers Blonde tweeted: “Always and forever.”
Another drag performer, Lady Bushra, also shared their condolence, saying: “Rest in power and nirvana Cherry Valentine.
“Who knew us having a kiki at RVT this summer would be the last time we would meet. You were always one of the nicest queens and I thank you for being such an incredible queen.”
We are devastated at the passing of George, who we also knew as Cherry Valentine.
Fiona Campbell, BBC Three Controller says:
“We are all shocked and heartbroken to hear the news of the passing of George, known to many as Cherry Valentine.
— BBC Three (@bbcthree) September 23, 2022
Amrou Al-Kadhi wrote: “Winded by the devastating news about Cherry Valentine. I can’t believe it. A true queen. Rest in peace my dear.”
So sad to hear of the sudden passing of Cherry Valentine. May she live on in the memory of her many fans, friends, family and loved ones. RIP xx
— Indigo Diamond (@TOIndigoDiamond) September 23, 2022
It is with the deepest sadness that we announce the passing of our beloved friend and company director George – Cherry Valentine.
— Throne Events (@Throneeventsuk) September 23, 2022
We are so SADDENED by the news of Cherry Valentine!!
They took time out to chat with us about their journey and gave us nothing but love ️
Sending love at this time to the Family ️ pic.twitter.com/RmYG0COWct
— LooseLesbianPodcast (@LesbiansLoose) September 23, 2022
Many fans have thanked Cherry Valentine for her work during the pandemic in the NHS as a mental health nurse and breaking down barriers for marginalized communities with her documentary about the Gypsy, Roma and Traveler community.
“The most fabulous queen and irresistible spirit,” one person wrote, “An amazing mental health nurse who spread NHS love throughout the pandemic, and a proud advocate of the traveler community. A North East bright icon with the best laugh.”
Another expressed their sadness at the loss, adding,[I] loved how she used her platform after to create the documentary Gypsy Queen and Proud to break down the stereotypes and stigma attached to the traveling community, as well as helping LGBTQ+ travelers not feel so alone.”
Cherry Valentine. A brilliantly talented drag performer who did so much for this world both as a nurse, and as representation for the gypsy community. Im heartbroken. A profound loss🕊️🤍 pic.twitter.com/O8i7rqTR7H
— Amelia Di-Vito (@mimi_divito) September 23, 2022
Deeply saddened to hear of Cherry Valentine’s passing this morning. They were undoubtedly a much loved artist, as well as a shining light in the GRT community. May her memory be a blessing.
Sending love and our thoughts to the Ward family and their loved ones at this time ♥️🕯️
— Dogmouth Theater (@DogmouthTheatre) September 23, 2022
RIP Cherry Valentine.
Not only were you an incredible drag queen on #DragRaceUKyou were a frontline nurse in the NHS who helped save so many lives!
I know the documentary you did, about growing up gay within the traveler community, will have helped so many people!! pic.twitter.com/dIfuW4CXkM
— Meh (@Spilling_The_T) September 23, 2022
So saddened to see the news that Cherry Valentine has died. Her documentary about growing up LGBTQ+ in the GRT community is a really important watch, and as an ambassador for mental health nursing she was an inspiration. Just awful news
— Jonathan Downing (@jonadowning) September 23, 2022
cherry valentine was such a pure soul, a joy to watch whenever she was on TV, an incredible creative and most of all a selfless person. she will be incredibly missed, absolutely heartbroken for her family. #DragRaceUK #dragrace
— o•o (@bluballisters) September 23, 2022