Iconic Manchester club pays tribute to bar worker 18, found dead in hotel

Manchester's gay scene has paid an emotional tribute to a "bubbly" 18-year-old bar worker who was found dead in a hotel.

Ria Cooper, 18, was found dead at Ainscow Hotel, Trinity Way, Salford, around 9am last Friday, in what police are calling "non-suspicious" circumstances.

The popular teen, who was a Katy Perry superfan, worked for five months at Canal Street venue G-A-Y, at the heart of Manchester's gay village.

Paying tribute to their colleague, members of staff at the venue have created a memorial wall filled with pictures and happy memories. Residence drag performers have also paid their respects to the tragic teen.

Among those paying tribute was Bradley Hinks, a manager at G-A-Y, and Ria's boyfriend Jordan Keys.

They told the Manchester Evening News they would always "love and remember her".

In a joint tribute, they said: "She was one of these naturally funny and bubbly people.

"She was there for a laugh and have fun and she just made you smile whenever you were around her. Even when you were trying to be angry or annoyed, she would say 'I’m just vibing babe' and you couldn’t help but smile.

"We were there to help her as were her friends who mostly are all from G-A-Y.

"She became part of our family and we will always love and remember her."

Jeremy Joseph, owner of both G-A-Y bars in Manchester and London, said on Facebook that his staff had been coping well.

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"The right words are hard to write, but I Just want to say how proud I am of G-A-Y Manchester Staff," he posted.

"This weekend has been so tough, but they came together as a family and supported each other & thank you to other Village Venues who showed support to our staff."

Andrew Fawcus, who performs as drag queen Verry Cherry, dedicated a performance at G-A-Y on Sunday evening in memory of Ria.

Writing on Facebook on Sunday, Andrew said: "Tonight at G-A-Y is a different kind of show.

"I wanna try and make this sound less yucky than it may seem… but tonight Im going to be doing all the fave numbers for one of the bar staff RIA who tragically past away suddenly last week.

"She was a bubbly lovely soul and will be missed by many including myself."

Adore Delano, an American drag queen who competed on RuPaul's Drag Race, said: "My heart actually hurts.

"Ria Cooper. You were such a kind energy whenever I was around you. May you Rest In Peace, Angel."

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Drag queen Divina De Campo, who regularly performs in Manchester and appeared on the first season of RuPaul's Drag Race UK, said the news was 'incredibly sad'.

"Ria was a real sweetheart," she posted.

"Reach out and remember to talk, love, and help each other. Xxx"

Memories of Ria have since been displayed inside the venue where she worked, after staff put up a memorial wall full of messages and pictures alongside balloons, flowers and candles.

"We've had so many people in today showing how much they loved Ria," one member of staff at G-A-Y posted.

"It's been amazing and she'd be so touched by it all."

Another member of staff shared a photo of the memorial wall and shared how much of an impact Ria had on them.

"To all coming to G-A-Y Manchester tonight and in the future, please take a moment of respect and love for this beautiful woman," they posted.

"She was an absolute goddess, a queen and a genuine person that has gone too soon.

"Come into G-A-Y tonight and raise a glass to this wonderful person whenever Katy Perry or God Is A Dancer plays, and just appreciate this wonderful woman.

They added: "Rest in paradise gal, hope you're vibing wherever you are."

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A spokesperson for Greater Manchester Police said: "Police were called at 9am on Friday 6 March 2020 to a report that the body of a woman had been found at a hotel on Trinity Way, Salford.

"Emergency services attended and sadly found the body of a woman aged 18.

"There are not believed to be any suspicious circumstances surrounding her death and a file has been passed to the coroner."

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In addition, a spokesperson for Ainscow Hotel said that it was a "very difficult time for all concerned".

"I would just like to say that everyone connected to The Ainscow Hotel would like to send our heartfelt condolences to all of the family and friends and that our thoughts and prayers are with them at this difficult time."

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