'Rest in Power' - Gypsies and Travellers grieve over the death of 'our George' Cherry Valentine
George Ward, who performed as the drag queen Cherry Valentine, has died at the age of 28, their family announced today.
Ward’s career in television began after appearing on the second series of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK in 2021.
Born and raised as George Ward in the Traveller community in Darlington, County Durham, they presented a BBC documentary about their life, Cherry Valentine: Gypsy Queen and Proud, in January this year.
Traveller Pride, a support and campaign group for LGBTQ+ Gypsies, Roma and Travellers who George spent time with during the filming of the documentary, where among the first to pay tribute.
Traveller Pride tweeted: “Just waking to the news that @TheCValentine (our George) died over the weekend.
Indescribably sad. We will release a full statement in the next few days. George's buoyant and genuine love and care were so nourishing and we're beyond grateful to have called him a friend.”
Another Traveller Pride tweeter wrote: "…so much of the success and growth of Traveller Pride over the past year down to Cherry Valentine. Being open on drag race and then later the film, an enormous impact. We will be forever grateful."
In a statement, Ward’s family 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 and 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. We love you Georgie.”
Mike Doherty/TT News