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23 September 2022, 15:07
Drag Race UK series two contestant George Ward, known by his stage name Cherry Valentine, has died aged 28.
George Ward’s family have described his death as a ‘profound shock’.
The performer, known by stage name Cherry Valentine, took part in RuPaul’s Drag Race UK series two and went on to front a documentary of their own called Gypsy Queen and Proud.
In a statement, George’s family said: “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."
They added: “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."
George was raised in Darlington, County Durham, as part of the Traveller community and qualified as a mental health nurse in 2015 before pursuing a career in drag.
Drag Race UK stars have been flooding social media with their tributes, with host RuPaul and season two’s Bimini Bon Boulash leading the messages.
Ru wrote on Twitter: "So sad to hear. A bright star and a lovely person. @TheCValentine. Always in our hearts."
Bimini tweeted: “At a loss for words. One of those souls so pure, so raw, so real. I’m incredibly lucky to have known George and witnessed their infectious spirit.
“Their patience and kindness was their superpower. They saw you for you and not many people have that empathetic trait. My heart.”
At a loss for words. One of those souls so pure, so raw, so real. I’m incredibly lucky to have known George and witnessed their infectious spirit. Their patience and kindness was their superpower. They saw you for you and not many people have that empathetic trait. My heart 💔🍒— BÎмÎηÎ (@biminibabes) September 23, 2022
A’Whora, real name George Boyle, posted an emotional statement to Instagram Stories: “I cannot even begin to process today’s news, I honestly have never been so heartbroken and in a state of shock so much!
“I’ve lost not only a sister but someone who for the last 7 months had become my best friend who I would call and text about everything and anything! We had so much planned and you had so much greatness ahead, and I know your legacy and talent will forever live on.
“I love you beyond words will ever understand! I will never stop being inspired by you and will continue to fight for your voice to be heard! I love you. R.I.P,” they wrote.
Winner of series two, Lawrence Chaney, meanwhile shared a photo of Ward on Instagram Stories, alongside a broken heart emoji.