George Ward: Bimini leads Drag Race UK stars in tribute to performer known as Cherry Valentine

·3 min read
 (BBC)
(BBC)

The queens of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK have led tributes to George Ward, known by his drag name Cherry Valentine, following his sudden death aged 28.

In a statement shared on Friday (23 September), Ward’s family confirmed that the performer and Drag Race UK star had died on Sunday (18 September).

“It is with the most heart-wrenching and deepest sadness to inform you that our George – Cherry Valentine – has tragically passed away,” they wrote.

“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.”

Ward, who hailed from Darlington and was a member of the Traveller community, competed on the second series of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK in 2021. As well as performing in drag, he worked as a mental health nurse within the NHS.

Since appearing on the show, Ward performed across the country with his cast members and as a solo act, as well as presenting his own BBC Three documentary titled Cherry Valentine: Gypsy Queen and Proud.

 (Bimini/Instagram)
(Bimini/Instagram)

Posting on Instagram Stories, Ward’s fellow series two competitor Bimini led tributes to Ward.

“I can’t find the right words. I’m not sure they exist,” they wrote. “You saw what others didn’t and showed nothing but kindness, patience and grace. A pure soul. I’ll cherish our memories and the things you taught me. You will continue to inspire me, forever.”

A’Whora, who also competed alongside Ward on Drag Race UK, said that she was “heartbroken” and in “a state of shock”.

“I’ve lost not only a sister but someone who for the last seven months had become my best friend who I would call and text about anything,” she wrote.

“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 hear!”

A’Whora’s tribute (A’Whora/Instagram)
A’Whora’s tribute (A’Whora/Instagram)

Sharing a photo with Ward, Ellie Diamond wrote: “I am so sad to even begin thinking about posting this! Cherry brought so much life and laughs to whatever situation!

“Always someone who was caring and loving, her laugh lightened up a room like fireworks and will forever have a cherry red place in all our hearts! I love you my sister you will be missed!”

Series champion Lawrence Chaney posted a picture of Ward in drag with a broken heart emoji.

Cheryl Hole shared her own tribute, writing: “I never thought I’d have to write this about one of my sisters so soon and honestly have no words to describe how talented and beautiful Cherry was and how the world has lost such an incredible queen.

“RIP @thecherryvalentine I LOVE YOU.”

Series one star and UK Vs The World winner Blu Hydrangea also shared a photo of Ward with a broken heart and rose emoji.

Sister Sister, who also appeared on series two, shared a dove emoji to Instagram alongside footage of her and Ward.

Series one’s Crystal wrote that she was “devastated” by the news.

“I didn’t know Cherry well but all my experiences were of an incredibly kind, talented person,” she said. “If anyone who knew Cherry needs to speak, I’m available.”

In a statement, BBC Three controller Fiona Campbell also paid tribute to Ward.

“We are all shocked and heartbroken to hear the news of the passing of George, known to many as Cherry Valentine,” she said.

“A fan favourite and an inspiration to so many, we were privileged to have worked with him at BBC Three. He will be hugely missed by his many fans and friends. Our deepest sympathies are with his family and friends at this difficult time.”