Ant McPartlin hugs Declan Donnelly at his brother Dermot's funeral after TV star carries the coffin – Daily Mail

By Kevin Donald and Mark Duell for MailOnline
|

212
View
comments

A devastated Declan Donnelly was hugged by his best friend Ant McPartlin today as he paid an emotional farewell to his older brother, telling mourners at a funeral that his family ‘can’t believe he’s gone’ following his death aged 55.
Catholic priest Father Dermott Donnelly was laid to rest following an emotional requiem mass at Newcastle’s St Mary’s Cathedral, where he once served as Dean. Hundreds gathered at the church, with more than 2,000 watching the service on a livestream.
Dec helped carry his brother’s coffin into the cathedral, while his Ant arrived separately. The pair hugged outside after the service, and there was applause from the mourners as the hearse pulled away.
Father Dermott, 55, was best known for his work with young people and youth ministry. Mourners at his funeral heard he was a ‘gifted priest’ who ‘dedicated himself every day to the service of others’.
Paying tribute to his brother during the service, Dec fought back tears as he said: ‘Unfortunately today our world is a slightly worse place because Dermott is no longer with us. He still had so much more he wanted to do, so many more lives he needed to change.
‘We can’t believe he’s gone, we still can’t understand why he’s gone – but we trust God took him because his talents were needed elsewhere. We as a family will miss him immeasurably.’
He thanked the congregation for ‘all the amazing tributes and messages of support’, saying the family had been ‘simply overwhelmed by the kindness we’ve been shown’.
He said Father Dermott had been the middle child of seven, and told how they grew up in a three-bedroom house in Newcastle, with the four boys in one room and the three girls in the other.
‘Dermott and I, being the youngest boys, were confined to the bottom bunks, and on the occasions when my five or six-year-old overactive imagination created monsters under the bed, I would run out of bed, jump into Dermott’s bunk and he would calm me down in the middle of the night with stories he invented,’ he said.
Dec praised his brother’s ‘fantastic sense of humour and fantastic sense of adventure’, and said his wish to be a priest was ‘definitely there from an early age’ as their mother Anne remembered him wanting to ‘play Mass’ as a child.
He said Father Dermott was passionate about his work with young people, ‘giving [them] hope, spiritual guidance and a feeling of self-worth’.
He also joked about his brother’s extensive fundraising efforts, saying: ‘You name it, Dermott monetised it.’
Dec’s face was etched with grief as he took his brother’s coffin on his shoulder as one of the pall bearers who carried it into the cathedral in the centre of the city.
His longtime TV partner and best friend Ant arrived a few minutes earlier with his wife Anne-Marie Corbett.
Anne Donnelly, the mother of Dec and Father Dermott, also attended and was seen wiping her eyes as she entered the church – while dozens of other family members and friends queued up outside waiting to pay their respects.
Also there were former Newcastle United and England footballer Peter Beardsley and millionaire businessman Graham Wylie, who worked with Father Dermott to launch the Mercy Hub to help homeless young people.
Worshippers began waiting outside at 10am for the midday service and there was a long queue of wellwishers who wanted to pay tribute to the popular priest.
The service was also beamed to mourners at St Michael’s Church in Elswick, Newcastle, the area where Father Dermott and Dec, 46, were brought up in a family of seven children.
Father Dermott is believed to have died from a bleed on the brain after suffering headaches in the days leading up to his death on July 8.
Ant McPartlin and Declan Donnelly embrace outside St Mary’s Cathedral, Newcastle, following a Requiem Mass for his Father Dermott Donnelly
Dec fought back tears as he paid tribute to his brother during the service, telling mourners: ‘We can’t believe he’s gone, we still can’t understand why he’s gone’
The pair had a brief chat following today’s service, where hundreds gathered to pay tribute and more than 2,000 watched on a livestream
Dec praised his brother’s ‘fantastic sense of humour and fantastic sense of adventure’, before he was consoled by Ant outside the church
The television stars hugged outside the church after the service, and there was applause from the mourners as the hearse pulled away

Declan Donnelly carries the coffin into St Mary’s Cathedral in Newcastle today for Father Dermott Donnelly’s funeral 
Ant McPartlin arrives at St Mary’s Cathedral in Newcastle this morning for the funeral of Father Dermott Donnelly
Ant McPartlin (left) and Declan Donnelly (right) arrive in Newcastle for the funeral of Dec’s brother Father Dermott Donnelly
Anne Donnelly, the mother of Declan Donnelly and Father Dermott Donnelly, arrives at St Mary’s Cathedral in Newcastle today
White Dillard’s worker calls black shopper the n-word
Handcuffed woman dies after falling out of moving police car
Russian soldier who castrated Ukrainian POW seen patrolling Lugansk
Loving mother gorilla shows her baby to visitors at Calgary Zoo
Explosion heard near Kabul International Stadium in Afghanistan
Police scene body bag after woman fell 40-feet from chairlift
Biden ‘feeling fine’ despite testing positive for COVID again
The pride of a father. Bublé sings along with his son on the piano
Revolutionary new glasses allow deaf people to ‘see’ conversations
Kris Jenner shares her iconic nighttime routine for SKKN BY KIM
Jennifer Garner fights hiccups baking Cinnamon Apple Muffins
90 Day Fiancé applicant brings girlfriend to UK ‘clean’ for him
Mourners gather in Newcastle city centre this morning ahead of Father Dermott Donnelly’s funeral at St Mary’s Cathedral
Declan Donnelly carries the coffin into St Mary’s Cathedral in Newcastle today for Father Dermott Donnelly’s funeral
Ant McPartlin arrives at St Mary’s Cathedral in Newcastle this morning for the funeral of Father Dermott Donnelly
Declan Donnelly arrives today for the Requiem Mass for his brother, Father Dermott Donnelly, at St Mary’s Cathedral
Declan Donnelly carries the coffin into St Mary’s Cathedral in Newcastle today for Father Dermott Donnelly’s funeral
Anne Donnelly, the mother of Declan Donnelly and Father Dermott Donnelly, arrives at St Mary’s Cathedral in Newcastle today
In a tribute in the order of service, Dec’s family said: ‘Dermott wore many hats. he was a son, a brother, an uncle, a nephew, a cousin, a friend and a priest.
White Dillard’s worker calls black shopper the n-word
Handcuffed woman dies after falling out of moving police car
Russian soldier who castrated Ukrainian POW seen patrolling Lugansk
Loving mother gorilla shows her baby to visitors at Calgary Zoo
Explosion heard near Kabul International Stadium in Afghanistan
Police scene body bag after woman fell 40-feet from chairlift
Biden ‘feeling fine’ despite testing positive for COVID again
The pride of a father. Bublé sings along with his son on the piano
Revolutionary new glasses allow deaf people to ‘see’ conversations
Kris Jenner shares her iconic nighttime routine for SKKN BY KIM
90 Day Fiancé applicant brings girlfriend to UK ‘clean’ for him
Dancer cries with joy as Bristol council votes to keep strip clubs
‘To us, his family, Dermott was a gift from God. We had him on loan for 55 years, however God has now called him back home to be with him.
Popular priest Father Dermott Donnelly had recently celebrated 30 years of service in the Catholic church
‘He was our spiritual advisor and our conscience; he was full of great ideas and we as a family will miss him so very much. We love you Dermott and that will never change. Until we meet again may God keep you in the palm of his hand.’
Bishop Robert Byrne paid tribute to Father Dermott as the service began.
He said: ‘The huge numbers of people here this morning joining us in this cathedral, and St Michaels by livestream as well, is an obvious testament to the life and ministry of a much loved priest.’
He said Father Dermott was a ‘much loved family member, friend and confidante’ who devoted his life to the church’s youth ministry team.
The bishop added that the diocese would continue the youth work ‘which Dermott so ably initiated’.
During his homily, the Right Reverend Seamus Cunningham, Bishop Emeritus of Hexham & Newcastle, described Father Dermott as ‘a quiet, unassuming man with no airs and graces’.
Father Dermott’s death was announced by Dec, who tweeted earlier this month: ‘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.’
Ant McPartlin described Father Dermott as ‘the kindest, wisest man I knew,’ adding: ‘Rest in peace my friend, you will never be forgotten.’
The requiem mass was held at St Mary’s Cathedral at lunchtime. Father Dermott’s body had earlier been received into St Michael’s Church in Newcastle’s West End yesterday evening.
Declan Donnelly carries the coffin into St Mary’s Cathedral in Newcastle today for Father Dermott Donnelly’s funeral
The funeral cortege arrives at St Mary’s Cathedral in Newcastle today ahead of the requiem mass for Father Dermott Donnelly
Declan Donnelly arrives at the cathedral in Newcastle this morning for the funeral of his brother Father Dermott Donnelly 
Declan Donnelly carries the coffin into St Mary’s Cathedral in Newcastle today for Father Dermott Donnelly’s funeral
Ant McPartlin arrives at St Mary’s Cathedral in Newcastle this morning for the funeral of Father Dermott Donnelly
Declan Donnelly carries the coffin into St Mary’s Cathedral in Newcastle today for Father Dermott Donnelly’s funeral
Declan Donnelly arrives at the cathedral in Newcastle this morning for the funeral of his brother Father Dermott Donnelly
Declan Donnelly arrives today for the Requiem Mass for his brother, Father Dermott Donnelly, at St Mary’s Cathedral
Declan Donnelly carries the coffin into St Mary’s Cathedral in Newcastle today for Father Dermott Donnelly’s funeral
Ant McPartlin arrives at St Mary’s Cathedral in Newcastle this morning for the funeral of Father Dermott Donnelly
Declan Donnelly carries the coffin into St Mary’s Cathedral in Newcastle today for Father Dermott Donnelly’s funeral
Declan Donnelly arrives at the cathedral in Newcastle this morning for the funeral of his brother Father Dermott Donnelly
Mourners arrive at St Mary’s Cathedral in Newcastle this morning for the funeral of Father Dermott Donnelly
Mourners arrive at St Mary’s Cathedral in Newcastle this morning for the funeral of Father Dermott Donnelly
Dec and Father Dermott shared a close bond, with the priest officiating at the star’s wedding to Ali Astall at St Michael’s Church in 2015.
The Donnellys – Dermott, Dec, Martin, Eamonn, Camelia, Patricia and Moira – grew up in Cruddas Park and went to St Michael’s as children.
Saturday Night Takeaway host Dec was devastated Father Dermott didn’t get to meet his newborn son Jack, who arrived on July 23 and was described by his father as ‘a welcome ray of light’.
Dec and Father Dermott were brought up by their parents Alphonsus and Anne, who moved from Northern Ireland in the 1950s to the tough Cruddas Park council estate in Newcastle’s West End.
Father Donnelly was parish priest at St Joseph’s Church in Stanley, County Durham, at the time of his death.
But his former flock at St Mary’s Church in Blackhill, County Durham, where he first served as a priest, were stunned at his sudden passing.
Church steward Brian Robinson led tributes, saying: ‘He was sent to our parish as his first priesthood and he wasn’t with us long enough.
‘He served as youth minister and set up the Emmaus Youth Village just down the road from St Mary’s, which has since hosted thousands of youngsters.
‘He left St Mary’s in Blackhill when he became Dean of St Mary’s Cathedral in Newcastle. As well as being a very gifted priest he was a fantastic human being, and his priesthood left a legacy at Blackhill.
‘He will never be forgotten. It could be coincidence, but we had the biggest congregation since lockdown in church this weekend and all people wanted to talk about was Father Dermott.’
Brian said Father Dermott had collapsed at the Emmaus Youth Village, adding: ‘He had been complaining of a headache for a couple of days when he was involved at the Youth Festival in the Emmaus Village.
‘A couple of people said that he should get it looked at, but before he had a chance, he collapsed while getting ready to carry out a mass for 350 young people at the festival.
‘I think the medics knew that there was no hope really and his family were sent for as soon as he arrived at University Hospital North Durham.
‘It is such a sad, sad loss. The Good Lord must have something in mind for him, but it’s a sad loss for everyone and no one could step into the job of youth minister the way he did.’

Excerpts from the order of service for Father Dermott Donnelly’s funeral in Newcastle today are shown above
Before the service Bishop Byrne said he was ‘shocked’ by the priest’s death, saying: ‘Father Dermott 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. Father Dermott truly lived his faith, and in doing so gave so much to others.’
Such were the numbers of mourners expected at the cathedral that the mass was being live-streamed to St Michael’s. The priest was best known for his work with young people and youth ministry.
Hexham and Newcastle Bishop Robert Byrne said: ‘He 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.’
During his career, Father Dermott was a supporter of The Catholic Agency for Overseas Development (Cafod) charity.
Its head of education Monica Conmee said he had been a ‘great friend of Cafod’, adding: ‘Fr Dermott chose to stand in the light, and through his immense talent and gifts, so generously guided thousands of young people to experience the love and light of God in their own lives, inspiring them to share this with others.’
In 2014 Father Dermott featured on Songs Of Praise alongside CBBC’s Hacker T Dog to answer questions about the church that CBBC viewers had sent in.
In April he visited Downing Street and joined other religious leaders praying for peace.
A statement from Hexham and Newcastle diocese just after his death 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.’
Published by Associated Newspapers Ltd
Part of the Daily Mail, The Mail on Sunday & Metro Media Group

source

Leave a Comment