RuPaul's Drag Race UK star Ellie Diamond has led the tributes to Cherry Valentine after it was announced they had tragically died aged 28.

Cherry's, whose real name is George Ward and passed away on Sunday, family said in a statement: "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. 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. 30 November 1993 – 18 September 2022."

Cherry Valentine's representative told OK! in a statement: "As his agent, it goes without saying that my heart is broken.

"George was a truly special person with enormous talent and a bright future ahead. He lit up a room, touched so many peoples lives and few could forget his infectious laugh which I will miss terribly."

Devastated fans, co-stars and celebrities took to social media to pay tribute to Cherry star George and share their condolences.

Ellie Diamond, who appeared in series two alongside Cherry, shared a photo of them together on Instagram.

The post said: "I am so sad to even begin thinking about posting this! Cherry brought so much life and laughs to whatever situation!

"Always someone who was caring and loving, her laugh lightened up a room like fireworks and will forever have a cherry red place in all our hearts! I love you my sister you will be missed!"

Series one star Cheryl Hole, real name Luke Underwood-Bleach, tweeted: "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."

GMB presenter Charlotte Hawkins shared a photo with Cherry, writing: "Very sad to hear that Cherry Valentine has died, aged just 28.

"We met back in June at Epsom – so full of life then, it’s hard to believe. Sending love to George’s family & friends, just heartbreaking."

One fan wrote: "Completely heartbreaking to hear that Cherry Valentine has passed away. Loved watching her on drag race and online, and I’ll never forget the work she did as a mental health nurse during the pandemic. rest in peace Cherry."

A different account put: "Rest in peace Cherry Valentine such an inspiration to the world."

Another devastated fan said: "Not only an iconic drag performer, but George Ward aka Cherry Valentine was an NHS nurse who worked tirelessly to save lives during the pandemic. RIP."

While another person added: "Absolutely heartbroken about Cherry Valentine, such an important person to the community, gone way too soon."

Cherry competed on the second series of RuPaul's Drag Race UK in 2021, where Lawrence Chaney was crowned the winner.

Since competing on the show, they filmed BBC documentary Cherry Valentine: Gypsy Queen and Proud.

The documentary saw how George at 18 left the Traveller community after feeling rejected after coming out as gay as they later revisited the community.

George was raised in Darlington, County Durham, as part of the Traveller community and qualified as a mental health nurse in 2015, before starting a career in drag.

Since RuPaul's Drag Race UK, they also performed publicly and appeared in music videos by artists such as Charli XCX.

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