Sports presenter Simon Thomas has revealed he’s in the early stages of a new relationship, following the sudden death of his wife last year.
In November 2017, Simon’s wife Gemma died just three days after being diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia, leaving the couple’s eight-year-old son Ethan without a mother.
Speaking to Radio 5 Live presenter Anna Foster on Monday, Simon discussed the “unexpected” new relationship in his life.
“In the early stages, she’d had this empathy towards myself and Ethan,” he explained. “She’s a Christian as well, and that’s important to me as a man of faith. And very slowly but surely, she became this incredible support for me.
“For the first six or seven weeks, the support I had from family and friends was indescribable. It was incredible, almost suffocating at times. There was literally nothing that wasn’t looked after.
“But as those weeks go on, it’s not because they care about you any less, or love you any less, but they’re not able, because of the pressures of their own lives, they’ve got mortgages to pay, kids to raise, lives to lead, they can’t be there 24/7, and actually I wouldn’t want that.
“But there were moments where I would hit really, really low times. And… she was the only person who would always pick up the phone. And it wasn’t because she had an agenda, it was because she had an ear.
“And actually what I saw in her, I saw in Gemma, she had a compassion, she wanted to understand, and when she said her phone was always on, I knew it was.”
Explaining how he turned to alcohol in the early stages of his grief, something he says is prevalent among young people who lose a partner, Simon said: “Too many times in those early days, alcohol was almost a friend. But the problem was, yes it would numb that pain of loneliness for a time, but as the hours went on, it then started taking me to some very dark places. And she was always the one that would pick up the phone.
“I got to know her slowly over the weeks and months, and it began to become something I wasn’t expecting, and in fairness to her, she wasn’t expecting. You know, both of us would be honest enough to say, ‘we never expected to be here’.
“One of the things she often says is, ‘I wish I’d never met you’. And that’s not about me, it’s because she wishes more than anything, like I do, that I wasn’t in this situation. But I am.”
He added: “This is potentially an area that can cause a lot of hurt. There’s a lot of misunderstanding that comes from this – we equate meeting someone else with forgetting the person who’s gone.
“There are no shoes left to be filled. There will never be another Gemma. We are unique – we come to the table with our different personalities. If you’re embarking on a new relationship, comparing is ultimately a futile task. There is no comparison.”
Back in April, Simon announced that he was quitting his role at Sky Sports to focus his attention on caring for his son, noting: “I remember Ethan coming up to me in the lounge and through his tears he said these words: ‘Daddy, you know every weekend you go away and do the football and I spend the weekend with Mummy? What do I do now?’ And they have stuck with me ever since.”
Simon went on to say that football “doesn’t matter” to him anymore in the wake of Gemma’s death, noting: “The flames of passion I once had for it are, for now at least, gone.
“I hope one day they will relight again, but at the moment there’s barely a flicker.”