I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here host Declan Donnelly’s elder brother Father Dermott has died aged 55.
Father Dermott Donnelly, a priest at St Joseph’s Church in Stanley, County Durham, was taken to hospital on Thursday night after collapsing prompting an outburst of messages of goodwill.
The TV host wrote 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.”
In a statement, a representative for Mr Donnelly added: “It is with great sadness that we confirm the death of Fr Dermott Donnelly who died peacefully this afternoon in hospital surrounded by his family and close friends.
“We ask for the utmost privacy for the Donnelly family at this difficult time.”
The news broke after Bishop of Hexham and Newcastle released a statement paying tribute to the priest.
It read: “It is with great sadness that I 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. 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.”
Catholic parishes in the north-east of England announced on Facebook that he had been admitted to hospital.
Father Marc Lyden-Smith, of a neighbouring parish, wrote: “Father Dermott Donnelly is surrounded by his wonderful mother, family and close friends in hospital.
“Please pray for this very special priest as he prepares to go home to the God he has served faithfully all his life.”
Stanley, Dipton & Byermoor Catholic Parishes posted more information on Facebook on Thursday night: “Please pray for Father Dermott who is extremely unwell in hospital.
“Tomorrow evening between 6pm-7pm there will be period of time before the Blessed Sacrament so that we can come together as a community in St Joseph’s Church to pray for Father Dermott’s welfare.
“Please be respectful to Father Dermott and his family at this difficult time, we will update you as and when we receive the most up to date information verified by the Diocese.”
Father Dermott is understood to have been a priest for 30 years.
In 2015. he officiated at the wedding of his famous brother to Ali Astall in Newcastle in a star-studded ceremony.
“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,” Dermott previously said.