Cherry Valentine has been described as a “light for the sisterhood” by Dundee drag queen Ellie Diamond.
Drag performer George Ward, better known by his stage name, died on Sunday at the age of 28.
Ward appeared on the second series of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK, before launching a TV career and fronting the BBC documentary Gypsy Queen And Proud.
Elliot Glen, known as Ellie Diamond, told STV News: “Cherry was such a light to, not only our sisterhood, but to the majority of people who watched Drag Race.
“She would walk into a room and light it up on fire. She was someone you could go to to confide in.
“On tour, she was such a great help to be that person for everyone. There’s no words to describe.”
After appearing on the show, Ward joined the BBC to produce a documentary exploring his Traveller heritage.
In the 2022 special, called Gypsy Queen And Proud, revisited the community he left aged 18.
“It’s going to be a part of her legacy forever,” Ellie said. “Her story has not been fully told and it’s such a shame it was cut short.
“I love her and she will always be a sister.”
A statement from his 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.”
Ward was raised in Darlington, County Durham, as part of the traveller community and qualified as a mental health nurse in 2015, before starting his career in drag.
In December 2020, Ward was announced as one of 12 contestants competing in the second series of the UK version of RuPaul’s Drag Race.
In his introductory video for the show, he described his Cherry Valentine alter-ego as “glamour, dark and gothic”.
He said his work as a nurse had “put me in that right position to be able to understand people a bit more”.
“If you are a drag queen, you are working with people,” he said. “And to understand people, I think you go the extra mile.”
He also performed publicly and appeared in music videos by artists such as Charli XCX.