Drag Race stars and viewers have been paying their respects to George Ward, also known as Cherry Valentine, after it was announced that they had died.

He passed away on Sunday (18 September), with his death described as a “profound shock” by his loved ones.

“It is with the most heart-wrenching and deepest sadness to inform you that our George – Cherry Valentine – has tragically passed away,” said a statement from Ward’s family.

“This will come as a profound shock to most people and we understand there is no easy way for this to be announced.”

Ward was raised in Darlington, County Durham and was a member of the Traveller community.

He rose to fame after appearing on the second season of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK before fronting the BBC documentary, Gypsy Queen and Proud.

“As his family, we are still processing his death and our lives will never be the same,” his family 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.”

Season two co-star Tia Kofi was among those paying tribute to the late star.

“Completely devastated and shook by the news about our friend Cherry. She was extremely kind, generous and talented,” she wrote on Twitter.

“Please share your memories in the Book of Condelence and contribute to the fundraiser for her vigil here – https://throneeventsuk.com.”

Divina De Campo also paid their respects to Ward, adding: “This is terribly sad. Such a sweetheart who had achieved so much for her communities. Condolences to everyone who knew her. So shocked.”

Season one winner The Vivienne said she has “no words, my thoughts and prayers go out to all of your family”.

Sum Ting Wong shared that she was in tears over Ward’s passing.

“My cab just stopped for a second at a sign pointing to ‘gypsy hill’ and I started crying again ffs,” they continued. “Everyone check in on your friends and loved ones, you never when’s your last chance x.”

You can learn more about remembering Cherry Valentine here and see how others paid tribute to her below: