The drag performer George Ward, known by their stage name Cherry Valentine, has died at the age of 28. The performer was “an inspiration to many”

George Ward, better known by the stage name Cherry Valentine, was an English drag queen. He was best known for competing in the second series of RuPaul's Drag Race UK, and for the BBC documentary Cherry Valentine

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

“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.”

Ward qualified as a mental health nurse in 2015 and three years later began performing as Cherry Valentine. During the pandemic they worked in a Covid vaccination centre.

Ward was announced as one of 12 contestants competing in the second series of the UK version of RuPaul’s Drag Race in December 2020.

In an introductory video for the show, Ward described their Cherry Valentine alter-ego as “glamour”, “dark” and “gothic”.

Ward said: “Cherry is just the part of me that I want to be when I’m out of drag. Obviously we’re the same person.”