Declan Donnelly 'heartbroken' after his older brother Father Dermott Donnelly dies aged 55

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The Catholic priest brother of television presenter Declan Donnelly has died aged 55.

Father Dermott Donnelly, a parish priest at St Joseph's Church in Stanley, County Durham, died peacefully in hospital on Friday afternoon after a short illness.

Declan Donnelly, 46, had reportedly been with members of his family at his brother's bedside during his final hours.

The TV star tweeted: "I am heartbroken to tell you that my darling brother Fr Dermott sadly passed away this afternoon. We are all beyond devastated. Thank you for your messages of sympathy and support, they are appreciated."

A statement shared by the diocese of Hexham and Newcastle said: "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.

"Please pray for the repose of his soul and keep his family, especially his mother, in your prayers at this difficult time."

Father Dermott had conducted Donnelly's star-studded wedding to Ali Astall in Newcastle in 2015, with guests including Holly Willoughby, Phillip Schofield, Dermot O'Leary and Donnelly's presenting partner, Ant McPartlin.

Father Dermott had recently been invited to Number 10 by outgoing prime minister Boris Johnson to pray for peace alongside other religious leaders after the invasion of Ukraine.

The respected priest had described the visit as "a real privilege", saying "the best weapon we had was prayer".

The I'm A Celebrity presenter is the youngest of seven brothers and sisters.

The actor and presenter has previously said he briefly considered following in his older brother's footsteps and becoming a priest, before finding success in showbiz.

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