'Devastated' Declan Donnelly was ‘at his brother Dermott's bedside’ when he died tragically aged 55 | The Sun

DECLAN Donnelly has been left "devastated" by his beloved brother's death aged just 55.

The tearful telly star, 46, rushed back to his native north east to be with Father Dermott Donnelly.

The popular Catholic priest was suddenly taken ill earlier this week and admitted to the University Hospital of North Durham for urgent treatment.

Dec dropped everything after being told his brother was "seriously ill" and was seen at the hospital fighting back tears with two priests.

He and his brother were extremely close.

A source said Dec – who hosts Saturday Night Takeaway with TV sidekick Ant McPartlin – was "devastated" by his death.

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The source added: "He headed north as soon as he heard the news.

"He was among 12 family members at his brother's hospital bedside, as well as priests who know Fr Dermott very well.

"Fr Dermott was so well loved. Hundreds of people were praying for him – you couldn't wish to meet a nicer person.

"Some vicars can be quite cold and cut off but he wasn't one of them. He was the complete opposite. He was so warm and open.

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"Dec is one of seven kids and they're all very close to one another, but he had a special bond with Dermott."

Smiling Fr Donnelly conducted Dec’s wedding to Ali Astall in front of a star-studded guest list in 2015.

Tributes have begun flooding in for the priest ahead of a special mass at his church in Stanley, County Durham.

In an emotional statement the Bishop of Hexham and Newcastle said: "It is with great sadness that I inform you of the death of Fr Dermott Donnelly who died peacefully in hospital.

"This has come as a great shock to all of us.

"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."


Fr Dermott, who first became a priest in 1992, was the founding member of the Catholic Youth Ministry Federation and has been its chair for a number of years.

In April he was invited by Boris Johnson to join religious leaders in Downing Street to pray for peace in Ukraine.

At the time Fr Donnelly said: "It was a real privilege to join Christian leaders from across many churches at Downing Street and to stand together in prayer, the silence was so profound.

"It was a moment when the power of vulnerability encountered the vulnerability of power. The best weapon we had was prayer."

Dec, the youngest of seven brothers and sisters, has previously spoken of his close relationship with his brother.

At one stage he even considered following in his brother's footsteps and becoming a priest. 

He said: "Growing up was like The Waltons but in Newcastle.

"We all lived in a council house in Cruddas Park in the West End. The house had three bedrooms.

"You don't need to be a maths genius to work out that three bedrooms and nine people equals a bit of a squeeze. 

"The four boys were in two sets of bunk beds in one room, the three girls were in another and my mam and dad had the third room.

"My mam and dad, Anne and Alphonsus, came to Newcastle from Ireland in 1958.

"You'd often find the Donnelly clan at the Tyneside Irish Centre on a Saturday night and that was where I had my earliest performing experiences.

"Later on my brother Dermott trained to be a priest.

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"When I was about 14 I did briefly consider following in his footsteps. Then, one day, I got the bus home from school and it was full of lasses from the local girls' school, Sacred Heart.

"I knew right there and then that the priesthood wasn't for me."

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