'Drag Race UK' Star Cherry Valentine Dead at 28

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Friday September 23, 2022

George Ward, a.k.a. Cherry Valentine
George Ward, a.k.a. Cherry Valentine  (Source:BBC Three/World of Wonder)

The family of "RuPaul's Drag Race UK" star George Ward, a.k.a. Cherry Valentine, announced the performer's death on Sept. 18 at age 28, CNN reported. No cause of death was given.


"It is with the most heart wrenching and deepest sadness to inform you that our George — Cherry Valentine — has tragically passed away," the family said in a statement.


Calling his death "a profound shock," the statement went on to add:

"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."


The statement also said, "As his family, we are still processing his death and our lives will never be the same."


Ward grew up among England's traveler community, "where he started doing drag as a child," CNN noted, but he left that community "after being rejected for coming out as gay at 18." Ward spoke about that experience in the BBC documentary "Cherry Valentine: Gypsy Queen and Proud," which aired earlier this year.


"Being interviewed for the launch of 'Drag Race UK' in January 2021, Ward explained he was introduced to the drag scene while a student at Lancaster University," the BBC recalled.


"I went to Manchester for a couple of nights out and thought: 'This is crazy, this is what I want to do,'" Ward said in the interview. "That's when Cherry was born."


Before his six-episode stint on Season 2 of the UK "Drag Race," Ward was a mental health nurse, CNN said. Digital Spy detailed that he went back to helping people in that capacity "while the show was forced to take a filming break and later and joining staff who were administering vaccinations during the COVID-19 pandemic."


In his introductory video for "Drag Race," Ward "said his work as a nurse had 'put me in that right position to be able to understand people a bit more,'" the BBC recalled.


"If you are a drag queen you are working with people," Ward added. "And to understand people I think you go the extra mile."


The head of BBC 3, Fiona Campbell, called Ward a "fan favorite and an inspiration to so many," and added, "we were privileged to have worked with him.... He will be hugely missed by his many fans and friends. Our deepest sympathies are with his family and friends at this difficult time."

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.