Declan Donnelly has been left “heartbroken” after the loss of his older brother Dermott, who has died following a serious illness.
Father Dermott Donnelly – who was a priest at St Joseph’s Church in Stanley, County Durham – died in hospital at the age of 55 on Friday afternoon.
The Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle first announced news of his death, which it said had come as “a great shock”.
“It is with great sadness that we have to inform you of the death of Fr Dermott Donnelly who died peacefully this afternoon in hospital. This has come as a great shock to all of us,” an announcement on its website read.
“Please pray for the repose of his soul and keep his family, especially his mother, in your prayers at this difficult time. Funeral arrangements will follow when finalised.
“May he rest in peace.”
Dec later posted on Twitter: “I am heartbroken to tell you that my darling brother Fr Dermott, @TweeterPriest, sadly passed away this afternoon. We are all beyond devastated. Thank you for your messages of sympathy and support, they are appreciated.”
The Pontop Partnership, which is a partnership of ten Catholic parishes in the Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle, said on Thursday in a post on Facebook that Dermott was “seriously ill” in hospital.
Hexham and Newcastle Bishop Robert Byrne said he will be “greatly missed in the diocese for his sterling work with youth, on both a diocesan and national level”.
He added: “He was a good and faithful priest.”
Dermott is reported to have been a priest for 30 years.
In 2015, he officiated Dec’s wedding to Ali Astall in Newcastle, where Dec’s TV presenting partner Ant McPartlin also served as his best man.
Dermott previously said (via Metro): “I don’t advertise that I’m Dec’s brother, but the kids always seem to know. It bridges the gap between me and them.”