Cherry Valentine, a favourite on Ru Paul’s Drag Race UK, died by suicide, an inquest has heard.
The TV star – real name George Ward – competed on the popular TV show in series 2.
Leaving fans and the drag community devastated, Ward – who was genderfluid and used he/they pronouns when not in drag – died in September at the age of 28.
Now, assistant coroner Dr Peter Straker has recorded a verdict of suicide.
After taking their own life, Ward was found at home in Hornsey, North London by friend Katie, who had been out at a concert that night.
Flatmate Katie also spoke in a post-mortem report about Ward’s behaviour prior to their death, after noticing a difference in their sleeping pattern.
As reported by BBC, the report said: ‘[Katie] stated that he seemed normal but recently noticed that he had been sleeping late and getting up late.
‘The subject was a successful drag queen, and [his friend] believes he had been struggling with his rise to fame after being on RuPaul’s Drag Race.
‘[Katie] also said [Ward]’s ex-partner had recently got engaged.
‘[The friends] would regularly chat about their struggles, but [Katie] believed that Ward’s extravagant behaviour was a mask.’
Ward – who was a qualified mental health nurse and helped the NHS with vaccinations during the pandemic – also previously suffered with depression.
The late star’s family shared a tribute at the hearing as well, which read: ‘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. We love you Georgie.’
In a statement released by their agent at the time of Ward’s death, the family announced: ‘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,’ the statement continued.
‘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.’
Tributes later poured in for the star, with Drag Race host RuPaul sharing an emotional message on Twitter, writing: ‘So sad to hear. A bright star and a lovely person. @TheCValentine Always in our hearts.’
BBC Three, the channel that airs Drag Race UK, shared a tribute to the late performer, which read: ‘We are devastated at the passing of George, who we also knew as Cherry Valentine.’
Fiona Campbell, BBC Three Controller also said: ‘We are all shocked and heartbroken to hear the news of the passing of George, known to many as Cherry Valentine.
Campbell hailed Ward ‘an inspiration to so many,’ adding it was a ‘privilege’ to have worked with the drag artist.
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