Cherry Valentine, RuPaul's Drag Race UK season 2 queen, dies at 28
RuPaul's Drag Race UK season 2 queen Cherry Valentine has died at age 28.
"We are heartbroken to learn of the passing of George Ward, a.k.a. Cherry Valentine," Drag Race production company World of Wonder confirmed on Instagram. "As an artist, nurse, and an activist, Cherry will always remain a beloved member of our Drag Race family. Cherry's love and irresistibly infectious laugh touched the lives of so many. Our deepest condolences go out to her family and friends."
A cause of death was not reported, though Cherry's family released a statement to the BBC expressing dismay over her death.
World of Wonder 'RuPaul's Drag Race UK' season 2 star Cherry Valentine has died at age 28.
"This will come as a profound shock to most people and we understand there is no easy way for this to be announced," the statement read. "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."
Cherry first rose to prominence on the sophomore season of RuPaul's Drag Race UK and was eliminated on the second episode. Before joining the cast, she worked through the coronavirus pandemic as a nurse for the National Health Service. The BBC later released a 2022 documentary about her life, Cherry Valentine: Gypsy Queen and Proud, which chronicled her exit from the Gypsy community. She also appeared in Charli XCX's "Good Ones" music video in late 2021.
So sad to hear. A bright star and a lovely person. @TheCValentine Always in our hearts. https://t.co/cA0TsMZ0PN pic.twitter.com/78xdx6Vvef
— RuPaul (@RuPaul) September 23, 2022
Drag Race UK head judge and host RuPaul honored Cherry's memory by calling her "a bright star and a lovely person," and said that she would be "always in our hearts."
Scores of Cherry's Drag Race sisters also spoke about her after the news broke, including her fellow season 2 contestant Tia Kofi.
Completely devastated and shook by the news about our friend Cherry. She was extremely kind, generous and talented. 🍒❤️
Please share your memories in the Book of Condelence and contribute to the fundraiser for her vigil here - https://t.co/2IlBcE4xiY pic.twitter.com/kCRrchBY5i
— Tia Kofi (@TiaKofi) September 23, 2022
"Completely devastated and shook by the news about our friend Cherry. She was extremely kind, generous and talented," Tia tweeted.
Season 2 runner-up Bimini Bon-Boulash said she was "at a loss for words."
"One of those souls so pure, so raw, so real. I'm incredibly lucky to have known George and witnessed their infectious spirit," Bimini tweeted. "Their patience and kindness was their superpower. They saw you for you and not many people have that empathetic trait."
At a loss for words. One of those souls so pure, so raw, so real. I’m incredibly lucky to have known George and witnessed their infectious spirit. Their patience and kindness was their superpower. They saw you for you and not many people have that empathetic trait. My heart 💔🍒
— BÎмÎηÎ (@biminibabes) September 23, 2022
Season 1 winner The Vivienne also tweeted that she had "no words" upon learning of Cherry's passing.
"My thoughts and prayers go out to all of your family," The Vivienne wrote, with season 1 runner-up Divina de Campo adding, "This is terribly sad. Such a sweetheart who had achieved so much for her communities. Condolences to everyone who knew her. So shocked."
I have no words, my thoughts and prayers go out to all of your family @TheCValentine 💚❤️💚❤️ pic.twitter.com/Xf1ONzuh1U
— TheVivienne (@THEVIVIENNEUK) September 23, 2022
Another season 1 queen, Baga Chipz, commented on WOW's post, writing "rest up, beautiful girl" and sharing a heart emoji in the comments section.
Michelle Visage, who sat next to RuPaul on the Drag Race UK season 1 panel, called Cherry a "beautiful soul" in a commemorative post.
"Cherry, you beautiful soul. After watching your documentary my eyes were opened and I learned so much and I thank you for that, for teaching me. I hate that you had any doubts about who you were because to me you were perfect," Visage wrote. "I only wish you were here to teach me more. You were one of a kind with a laugh as big as your heart. This is truly heartbreaking. Rest peacefully, superstar."
Season 13 queen Olivia Lux praised Cherry's "talent and light," while season 14 star (and U.K. native) Lady Camden said she was "heartbroken" over Cherry's death. "Be free, Angel," she wrote.
Cherry is the third global Drag Race queen to have died since the franchise launched in 2009. American Drag Race season 2 contestant Sahara Davenport died of heart failure in 2012, followed by season 8 and All Stars 2 alum Chi Chi DeVayne, who died in August 2020.
We are heartbroken that Cherry has passed away. She was a kind soul who brought joy and a distinctive laugh to everyone she met. She brought flair, verve and charm to #DragRaceUK, we will miss her so deeply. pic.twitter.com/4LG7oHaVZj
— RuPaul's Drag Race UK (@dragraceukbbc) September 23, 2022
I’m crying so much and I’m also laughing at all the happy memories. So many happy happy memories, the “tour time portal”, the broken nail, and all those “silly silly girls” and I’ll never forget the 9am goodnight hug.
Cherry my darling, I love you so much, my heart is broken. pic.twitter.com/DmnNv8r3vQ
— Ginny Lemon (@GinnyLemon69) September 23, 2022
I never thought I’d have to write something like this about such a talented and beautiful person that was Cherry. We have lost an incredible queen and I’m honestly devastated!
RIP @TheCValentine I LOVE YOU ❤️🌹 pic.twitter.com/AI3mWYy7HB
— Cheryl Hole (@CherylHoleQueen) September 23, 2022
💔 @TheCValentine sleep well CV pic.twitter.com/MwbenKhG6v
— VINEGAR STROKES (@TheOnlyVinegar) September 23, 2022
I’m in shock and not quite sure how to process the news. RIP Cherry. I will cherish the times we had together. An exceptional artist and person. My love goes out to their friends and family and everyone who knew them. pic.twitter.com/ZiJ7mY5DJ6
— Joe Black (@misterjoeblack) September 23, 2022