Cherry Valentine, one of the stars of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK, has died at the age of 28.
In a statement made through the star’s agent, the family of Valentine – real name George Ward – 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.
"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 concluded: “We love you Georgie. 30 November 1993 – 18 September 2022”
Valentine competed on the second series of RuPaul's Drag Race UK, placing 12th overall but winning a lot of fans along the way.
They also made a BBC documentary about their upbringing and heritage within the Traveller community.
Ward worked as a mental health nurse outside of their career in drag, and was heavily influence by growing up within the Traveller community, with a BBC article from last year citing the ‘absolutely fabulous’ women within their family.
They said: "When I was in college, I felt like I was living a double life.
"At home I would be one person and say I had a girlfriend – and then when I was around my friends I would become someone completely different.
"It sort of split my personality. When I grew up, I looked back and realised, 'Oh, that's not really healthy'."
On the inspiration for their drag career, Valentine said: "All the women in my family are absolutely fabulous,
"I remember growing up they would always wear heels to go to the corner shop and wear fabulous make up, of course.
“That really pushed me to be more polished and to be more glamorous."
They also spoke about how that background was something they chose to hide during the start of their career in drag, explaining the desire to avoid any ‘hate or backlash’ because of their Traveller heritage.
"I never really spoke to people about it when I first started doing drag in Manchester," they explained.
"I never told anyone. I didn't even tell my partner for about six months because you always have that feeling that you're going to be judged. I mean, I hear it all the time.
"I grew up around that [anti-Traveller sentiment] so it's not really bothered me but you do still get it and there's still stigma."
During the Covid-19 pandemic, Valentine was involved with the vaccine rollout, using their qualifications as a nurse to help with the efforts.
Of their career as a nurse, they said: "I just love people,
"I like hearing people's stories and talking to them.
"Covid was such a massive shock to everyone and I felt, 'Well, I'm a qualified nurse I need to be doing something.'
"Drag is my passion and my dream but I do love being a nurse – it's something I'll always do."