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RUPAUL'S Drag Race star Cherry Valentine has tragically died at the age of 28.

The TV favourite's family confirmed the heartbreaking news today, telling of their "deepest sadness".

The iconic performer wowed TV viewers with their incredible looksCredit: instagram/thecherryvalentine

It is not yet clear how Cherry - real name George Ward - died.

In a statement, his devastated 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. 30 November 1993 - 18 September 2022."

George, who died on Sunday, 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.

He 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, George 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. And to understand people I think you go the extra mile."

Tributes for the star poured in today, with Good Morning Britain presenter Charlotte Hawkins among them.

She tweeted: "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."

Meanwhile, Fiona Campbell, controller of BBC Three which broadcasts RuPaul's Drag Race UK, hailed George and Cherry as an "inspiration" to so many.

She said: "We are all shocked and heartbroken to hear the news of the passing of George, known to many as Cherry Valentine.

"A fan favourite and an inspiration to so many, we were privileged to have worked with him at BBC Three.

"He will be hugely missed by his many fans and friends. Our deepest sympathies are with his family and friends at this difficult time."

After appearing on the show, George joined with the BBC to produce a documentary exploring his Traveller heritage.

In the 2022 special, called Gypsy Queen And Proud, he revisited the community he left aged 18.

He also performed publicly and appeared in music videos by artists such as Charli XCX.

George Ward died on Sunday, although the cause of his death is not yet clearCredit: PA
The performer went onto produce a documentary exploring his Traveller heritageCredit: instagram/thecherryvalentine
Cherry's Red Carpet Performance from March this year
Cherry Valentine has tragically died aged 28Credit: BBC
Cherry featured in a special Halloween performance with Charli XCX for her latest single Good OnesCredit: YouTube/Charli XCX