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9 November 2018, 08:35
The ex-Blue Peter presenter has found love again - just twelve months after losing his wife to leukaemia.
Simon Thomas has a new girlfriend - just a year after losing his wife to cancer.
The ex-Blue Peter presenter, 45, was left left a single dad after Gemma died just THREE days after being diagnosed with a Acute Myloid Leukaemia in November 2017.
The couple had been married since 2005, and since then Simon has been sharing his grief on social media, helping other widowers and single dads handle the ups and downs of becoming a single-adult family.
But for the last few months, Simon has found himself in the "early stages" of a new romance - and he says that one of the reasons he has embarked on this new relationship is for the sake of his son Ethan, 8.
He said: “Sometimes I struggle with the phrase ‘moving on’ – I don’t think you ever really do move on from what’s happened.
“That hole that a loved one leaves doesn’t shrink over time. Life begins to grow around it.
“You begin to deal with some of the challenges grief throws up, being a single parent throws up.
“I’ve got two choices. Give up – I can’t do that, I don’t want to do that, I’ve got a boy to bring up, I promised Gemma.
“The only other choice then is you walk.
“Right from the start I felt, I’ve got to find life again.”
Earlier this year Simon quit his presenting job on Sky Sports to focus on bringing up his young son - and it seems stepping away from the limelight has helped bring love in to his life.
While he didn’t name his new girlfriend or reveal many details about her or how they met, he heaped praise on her - and said certain elements of her character reminded him of his tragic wife.
He enthused: “I’m very aware she was someone I didn’t know before and have got to know over the last few weeks and months.
“Right from the early stages – she had this empathy towards me. She’s Christian as well and that’s important to me as a man of faith.
"She’s been an incredible support for me. She was the only person who would always pick up the phone.
"What I saw in her, I saw in Gemma. When she said my phone is always on, she meant it."
But despite the similarities, Simon was adamant he is not looking to replace his wife.
He said: “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.
“It’s not my fault what happened to Gemma – it’s nobody’s fault.
“This person is helping me define life again, helping me to feel happy again.
“I can completely understand why some people do [feel that way]. But for most people we lose, they won’t want us to remain in this empty landscape of grief.”
Simon was also probed about if he was in love with his new woman.
He replied: "I’m getting there, yeah. It’s in many ways strange to feel that way again."
But despite his new found happiness, Simon did admit that meeting someone new and moving on didn’t come without its challenges - and that he knew that introducing her to his dead wife’s family has to be handled very sensitively.
He said: “The hard thing for Gemma’s family – they’ve not met her yet. She doesn’t want to appear insensitive, launching in there, ‘here I am guys’.
“When the time comes for them to meet, this will be a very physical representation, it will be a very painful reminder of the physical absence of Gemma.
"We do need to take our time. The stuff that goes on around us can be quite difficult to navigate at times.
“The rules of engagement around it are really quite difficult.
“She has in truth chosen a much rockier path than she could have done.”
The day after sharing his happy news, Simon took to Instagram to tell fans he was taking a break - which might have been because he was accused of moving on “too soon” after his wife’s passing.