George Ward, a contestant on RuPaul’s Drag Race series in the U.K. with the stage name Cherry Valentine, has died. He was 28 years old.
Ward died on Sept. 18 of unspecified causes, according to a statement from his family obtained by The Hollywood Reporter through his agent.
“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,” Ward’s family said.
“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,” the family’s statement added.
Born on Nov. 30, 1993, Ward was raised in Darlington in northern England and worked as a mental health nurse. Becoming a drag queen landed Ward an appearance on six episodes of the second season of the U.K. version of RuPaul’s Drag Race.
Ward also starred in a 2022 BBC 3 documentary Cherry Valentine: Gypsy Queen and Proud by director Peter Grant, which explored his early life as a traveler in the U.K.. Ward eventually left that community after facing rejection for coming out as gay.