Ant McPartlin hugs Dec Donnelly at brother’s funeral – after TV star carries the coffin

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ANT McPartlin hugged best pal Dec Donnelly today at his brother’s funeral as hundreds of mourners paid their respects to Father Dermott.

The respected Catholic priest, 55, passed away at the University Hospital of North Durham, in County Durham, on July 8 after a short illness.

TV star Declan Donnelly, 46, was one of the pallbearers at the service which took place at St Mary’s Cathedral in Newcastle, where he was laid to rest at a Requiem Mass this afternoon.

Dec looked devastated yesterday as he helped carry the coffin into the church for the vigil service, wearing a plain black suit.

At his brother’s funeral today he wore a black three-piece suit, a white shirt and tie.

Fellow Geordie star Ant, 46, arrived ahead of the service, alongside his wife Anne-Marie Corbett.

The news of Father Donnelly’s passing broke earlier this month.

Saturday Night Takeaway and I’m A Celebrity presenter star Dec said 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.”

Ant also paid his own tribute to Father Donnelly, writing on Twitter: “Fr Dermott you were the kindest, wisest man I knew. Rest in peace my friend. You will never be forgotten.

“My thoughts, prayers and love are with your wonderful family. The world has lost a special man. X A.”

A statement from Hexham and Newcastle diocese shortly 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.”

Fr Donnelly had celebrated 30 years of service to his parish and community shortly before his death.

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