TV star Declan Donnelly 'heartbroken' after death of his brother, Fr Dermott Donnelly

TV star Declan Donnelly 'heartbroken' after death of his brother, Fr Dermott Donnelly

TV HOST Declan Donnelly has said he is 'heartbroken' following the death of his older brother, Fr Dermott Donnelly, at the age of 55.

Father Dermott, parish priest at St Joseph's Church in Stanley, County Durham, passed away in hospital on Friday.

Revealing the news on Twitter, I'm a Celebrity and Saturday Night Takeaway host Declan said he was 'beyond devastated'.

"I am heartbroken to tell you that my darling brother Fr Dermott, @TweeterPriest, sadly passed away this afternoon," he wrote on Friday evening.

"We are all beyond devastated. Thank you for your messages of sympathy and support, they are appreciated."

Declan and Dermott were born in Newcastle upon Tyne, two of seven children to Irish parents Alphonsus and Anne.

Fr Dermott, who had served as a priest for more than 30 years, officiated at his brother's 2015 marriage to Ali Astall at St Michael's RC Church in Elswick.

'Energy and enthusiasm'

In a statement on behalf of the Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle, Bishop Robert Byrne said he was 'shocked and saddened' at the news of Fr Dermott's death.

"It is with very great sadness that we have just heard of the passing of one of our very own in the Diocese — Fr Dermott Donnelly," said Bishop Byrne.

"Our prayers this weekend will be for Fr Dermott, his loved ones and many friends — all of whom will be shocked and saddened to hear of his death.

"Fr Dermott had only recently celebrated his 30th anniversary of service to parish, community, Diocese and our faith.

"He will be sorely missed for his energy, enthusiasm and ability to engage with all who met him.

"This is particularly true of his work with young people and youth ministry in the Diocese — bringing many disadvantaged and dispirited young people to Christ and Catholicism.

"Fr Dermott truly lived his faith, and in doing so gave so much to others.

"It is with great gratitude that we will remember him and all he selflessly gave."

'Never forgotten'

Declan Donnelly's TV sidekick Ant McPartlin was among those to pay tribute to Fr Dermott, calling him a 'special man'.

"Fr Dermott you were the kindest, wisest man I knew," he posted on Twitter.

"Rest in peace my friend. You will never be forgotten.

"My thoughts, prayers and love are with your wonderful family. The world has lost a special man."