Simon Thomas has announced his decision to leave Sky Sports at the end of the current football season.
The broadcaster – who first found fame presenting Blue Peter from 1999-2005 and has worked at Sky for 13 years – has not returned to work since the sudden death of his 40-year-old wife, Gemma, who passed away in November last year just three days after being diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia.
In the months since, he has opened up about the depression and anxiety he struggled with before her death, as well as the effect grief has had upon him and his family.
Thomas explained in a blog post that his decision to leave Sky Sports – where he presents Sky’s Premier League – was made to focus on caring for his eight-year-old son:
“I’m doing it for Ethan. On that first morning after Gemma went, 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.”
Thomas acknowledged that his commitments during the football season were the main motivator behind his decision, but added that for now he had lost his passion for football, too.
“Being totally honest, the game I have loved for my whole life, the game I’ve had the amazing privilege of working on for these past few years, at the moment just doesn’t matter. For the first few weeks I barely watched a game, mainly because I couldn’t focus on anything. More recently, I have enjoyed watching football again, but 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.”
He added: “I never want to put myself in a position where people start looking at me and saying: ‘you can tell he’s not really bothered about this.’ It would be damaging professionally for me, and unfair on Sky and the brilliant people I work with.”
Sky have said “the door is always open”, assures Thomas, and the broadcaster has responded with managing director of Sky Sports, Barney Francis, saying: “Simon has suffered an unspeakable loss and we have done everything we can to ease the burden he is carrying.
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“He is part of our family and always will be even now as he searches for his next path.”
Thomas said he would now “explore other broadcasting opportunities” as well as writing a book and raising awareness and money for Bloodwise UK, the charity dedicated to beating blood cancer.
“Who knows where I may be in a year’s time but for now, God Bless, and I hope to see you on a screen near you one day soon,” he concluded.