Widowed sports presenter Simon Thomas reveals the ‘crippling anxiety’ which led to his career break after the death of his late wife returned during a recent live TV job – with voices in his head telling him he ‘couldn’t do it’

  • Simon Thomas revealed the ‘crippling anxiety’ which led to him taking a career break after the tragic death of his wife returned during a recent stint in live TV
  • The Norfolk-born father-of-one, 48, revealed the ‘voices in his head were catastrophizing everything’ as he returned to live TV to present live football 
  • Said is new wife Derrina Jeb, 30, helped coach him through his anxiety

Former Sky Sports presenter Simon Thomas has revealed that the ‘crippling anxiety’ which led to him taking a career break after the tragic death of his late wife returned during a recent stint in live TV.

The Norfolk-born father-of-one, 48, who has been raising son Ethan, 11,  after losing Gemma to cancer at the end of 2017, took to Instagram this week to reveal that the ‘voices in his head were catastrophizing everything’ as he returned to live TV to present live football at Trafford.

Admitting that there were ‘deafening voices of doubt, tears & a panic attack’ and he ‘felt his world was crumbling’, he said his new wife Derrina Jeb, 30, helped coach him through his anxiety.

Simon’s late wife Gemma Thomas’ tragic death in November 2017, after she was sent home for bed rest by her GP after visiting three times with flu-like symptoms.

She died just four days after being diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia, aged 40. 

Former Sky Sports presenter Simon Thomas has revealed that the ‘crippling anxiety’ which led to him taking a career break after the tragic death of his wife returned during a recent stint in live TV

The Norfolk-born father-of-one, 48, who has been raising son Ethan, 11, after losing Gemma to cancer at the end of 2017, took to Instagram this week to reveal that the ‘voices in his head were catastrophizing everything’ as he returned to live TV to present live football at Trafford

 Taking to Instagram, he wrote: ‘This week the anxiety that had crippled me 4 years ago and led to me having to come off work returned. Every time I thought about work, every time I tried to do any prep, I could barely concentrate & would have to lie on my bed for a few minutes & go again. 

‘The voices in my head were catastrophizing everything, whispering & then almost shouting “you can’t do this, you’ll mess it all up, you’re a fraud, you shouldn’t be doing this.” 

‘But then, like four years ago, the red light went on, the voice in my ear said, “we’re on air” & it was like nothing had happened. I was in my safe space, doing something I know I can do.’

Admitting that there were ‘deafening voices of doubt, tears & a panic attack’ and he ‘felt his world was crumbling’,

Simon said his new wife Derrina Jeb, 30, helped coach him through his anxiety

Simon continued: ‘Surely that would be it? I’d done the game at Newcastle on Tuesday night, all would be fine for Thursday at Old Trafford, wouldn’t it? As I woke Thursday the anxiety was back tenfold. There were deafening voices of doubt, tears & a panic attack. It felt like my world was crumbling. 

‘Calls to my wonderful, supportive wife & an amazing mate from Sky eventually calmed me down & the panic began to subside. And sure enough, as the red light went on again pitch side at Old Trafford, all was fine again & I had a wonderfully enjoyable evening.’

Explaining why he shared the post, Simon continued:  ‘Vulnerability is strength not weakness & reaching out to people & admitting I was struggling was a game changer. It helped me to shout back at those voices, “I am good enough, I can do this.” 

Simon has been open about his mourning, sharing his grief with his 99,000 Instagram following, who have in turn shown their support for the widower. 

In April 2018 Simon announced he would be leaving his role at Sky, citing his main reason as wanting to dedicate time and energy to Ethan.

Simon joined Sky in 2005 after 13 years at the BBC before working as a presenter on Sky Sports News and Sky’s coverage of EFL and League Cup football. 

However in 2020 Simon revealed he would be returning to work as a presenter, working with ITV.

Simon has since found love with girlfriend Derrina Jebb, 30, a minister’s daughter he is said to have met in church, and credited her for her support. 

Simon’s late wife Gemma Thomas’ tragic death in November 2017, after she was sent home for bed rest by her GP after visiting three times with flu-like symptoms. She died just four days after being diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia, aged 40.

What is acute myeloid leukaemia?

Acute myeloid leukaemia is an aggressive and rare form of blood cancer.

The symptoms of AML usually develop over a few weeks and become more severe. 

According to NHS Choices, the symptoms include: 

  • Pale Skin
  • Tiredness
  • Breathlessness
  • Frequent infections
  • Unusual and frequent bleeding – including the gums and nosebleeds

In advanced cases, patients are incredibly vulnerable to life-threatening infections and internal bleeding. 

If a GP suspects leukaemia, they will arrange a blood test to determine blood cell production. 

In AML, stem cells within the patient’s bone marrow produce too many immature white blood cells, which are not capable of fighting infection. 

This also can lead to a decrease in production of the oxygen-carrying red blood cells and platelets that help the blood to clot. 

Each year around 2,600 people in the UK are diagnosed with blood cancer. 

After diagnosis, patients need urgent chemotherapy due to the aggressive nature of the cancer. 

In some cases, radiotherapy may be needed along with a bone marrow or stem cell transplant. 

Source: NHS Choices 

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