Drag performer George Ward, known to the world as Cherry valentine has died at the age of 28. Their family announced the death with profound shock. Their statement goes “It is with the most heart-wrenching and deepest sadness to inform you that our George – Cherry Valentine – has tragically passed away”.
Cherry Valentine Has Died at the Age of 28
The death of George Ward took place on Sunday and their fame rests on their appearance in the second series of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK. This was the start of their career and how they marked their legacy. Later on, George Ward started his television career and fronted the BBC documentary Gypsy Queen and Proud. Before becoming a world-famous drag star, George Ward or Cherry Valentine started his career as a mental health nurse in 2015 which they once stated has positively influenced their life.
As George Ward has influenced many people and positively impacted many lives, their family said, “This will come as a profound shock to most people and we understand there is no easy way for this to be announced.” The mourning family also mentioned that it is extremely difficult for them to process Ward’s death and that their “lives will never be the same”.
Cherry Valentin was born George Ward in Darlington, County Durham. George Ward was raised as part of a traveler Gypsy community and in their early days, they identified themselves as queer. Ward is best known for starring in RuPaul’s Drag Race UK, a British reality competition television series in search of the next drag superstar. Cherry was also a big part of the BBC documentary Gypsy Queen and Proud.
Talking about the beginning of Cherry valentine’s fame, they got selected for the second series of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK back in 2020. George was announced as one of the 12 contestants of the second series and it was in the introductory video of this show that they said Cherry Valentine was their alter ego that is “glamour”, “dark”, and “gothic”. Cherry also added that their job as a nurse had “put me in that right position to be able to understand people a bit more”.
They went into more detail by stating that “If you are a drag queen you are working with people. And to understand people I think you go the extra mile.” When the show went to a halt due to the pandemic, George returned to his nursing career and worked shifts in a vaccination center in manchester. When asked about this situation, Cherry said that “Covid was such a massive shock to everyone and I felt, ‘Well, I’m a qualified nurse, I need to be doing something.” They also added that drag was their passion and being a nurse is something they love to do. George Ward made a charismatic presence on the show and earned many fans.
Cherry didn’t stop with the show but they went on to be a part of the BBC-produced documentary Gypsy Queen and Proud and this documentary explored their traveler heritage. As part of the show, George revisited this community that they had left when they were 18 years old. In the documentary, George revealed the difficulties they had to face as a queer person in the Gypsy community and said that they left the community when their family’s reaction to their identity was negative.
They said, “My experience growing up as a queer person in that community really affected my entire life,” and “I constantly have this pressure on me of trying to be perfect all the time. I’ve built this image of who I should be and it’s not who I am deep down. The feeling of being someone I don’t want to be, Cherry doesn’t feel that as much as I do”. It was this documentary that took them back to their roots once again. George went on to explain that trying to accept their true identity as queer was becoming difficult due to the constant physical assault and harassment with homophobic slurs at their school.
After this documentary, George Ward came with a stunning performance by appearing opposite Charlie XCX in the music video for her single named, “Good Ones”. When George was interviewed for the opening of the Drag Race UK show, they said that they were introduced to the drag scene at Lancaster University where they were a student. They recalled that the nights out at Manchester brought realization in their mind that drag was their space. Cherry added that “I did drag in Darlington behind the scenes. It was a case of doing it when your parents are out of the house and dressing up in your mother’s clothes, strutting around the house in nails.”
Whatever the reason for the death, the demise of George Ward a.k.a Cherry Valentine is a great loss to the drag world and the drag superstar will live in the memories of many.
Reaction to Cherry Valentine’s Death
The reaction of Fiona Campbell, the Controller of Cherry’s extended family, BBC Three is that “We are all shocked and heartbroken to hear the news of the passing of George, known to many as Cherry Valentine.” even Cherry’s fans posted tributes on social media platforms on Friday following the drag superstar’s death.
The statement given by Singer Jack Remmington is that Cherry Valentine was a brilliant drag performer who swayed the drag stages in elegance and did much for the community as a nurse. He also added that George did a lot for the representation and recognition of the Gypsy community. Star Cheryl Hole tweeted “We have lost an incredible queen”.