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Cherry Valentine, ‘Drag Race UK’ star, dead at 28

<i>Steven Paston/PA Images/Reuters</i><br/>Cherry Valentine appeared in six episodes of
Steven Paston/PA Images/Reuters
Cherry Valentine appeared in six episodes of "RuPaul's Drag Race UK" in 2020-2021.

By Lianne Kolirin, CNN

George Ward, a star of the British version of “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” has died at the age of 28, according to a statement issued by his family.

Ward, who shot to fame on the BBC’s “RuPaul’s Drag Race UK” under the stage name Cherry Valentine, died on September 18, his family said.

In a statement released by his agent, the 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 & 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.”

The statement continued: “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 30 November 1993-18 September 2022.”

Born in Darlington in the northeast of England, Ward was brought up in the traveler community, where he started doing drag as a child.

He appeared in six episodes of the show, which is broadcast on BBC Three, in 2020-2021. In his introductory video, he described his alter ego Cherry Valentine as “everything,” saying: “She is glamor, she’s club kid, she’s dark, she’s gothic.”

Before appearing on “Drag Race,” Ward worked as a mental health nurse. During the Covid-19 pandemic, he worked in vaccination units.

Earlier this year, Ward appeared in a BBC documentary, “Cherry Valentine: Gypsy Queen and Proud,” in which he spoke about leaving the traveler community after being rejected for coming out as gay at 18.

In a statement issued to CNN, Bunning said of her client: “As his agent, it goes without saying that my heart is broken. George was a truly special person with enormous talent (and) a bright future ahead. He lit up a room, touched so many peoples lives and few could forget his infectious laugh which I will miss terribly.”

Also offering her condolences was Fiona Campbell, controller of BBC Three. In a statement on the BBC’s website, she said: “We are all shocked and heartbroken to hear the news of the passing of George, known to many as Cherry Valentine.

“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.”

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