Tributes flood in for Drag Race UK star Cherry Valentine, who has died aged 28: ‘A true queen’

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. 

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”

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.”

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.”

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 marginalised communities with her documentary about the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller 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 traveller 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 travelling community, as well as helping LGBTQ+ travellers not feel so alone.”