Former Blue Peter and Sky Sports presenter Simon Thomas will open the Christian Resources Exhibition South West next month (10 am, Wed 23 Feb, Westpoint, Exeter).
Simon, 49, whose wife Gemma died suddenly from acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) four days after being admitted to hospital, has dedicated himself to increasing awareness of AML. He launched the Gemma Thomas Fund to raise awareness and money for research and is president of Blood Cancer UK. He has also written a book, Love Interrupted: Navigating Grief One Day at a Time (Trigger Publishing).
I want to make sure more people are made aware of the signs and symptoms of all blood cancers so we can improve early diagnosis and give people a fighting chance,’ he said. ‘I have known about CRE for some years and will be delighted to see, at last, the many ways the exhibitors help the Church in its mission.
The son of a Church of England vicar who died last year, Simon is currently presenting football coverage on Prime Video, streamed by Amazon. Last year he married Derrina Jebb, daughter of a Methodist minister. Speaking on BBC Radio 5 Live, he said: ‘Right from the early stages, she had this empathy towards me. She’s a Christian as well and that’s important to me as a man of faith.’ His son Ethan was one of the best men at their wedding in Norwich Cathedral.
New resources from more than 100 exhibitors will be available at CRE South West, often dubbed the ‘ideal church show’. Areas covered include new technology, financial management, fund-raising, safeguarding, cyber security, mission, youth, and children’s work – all helping churches recover from and build beyond the pandemic. Expert advice will be on hand in 40 seminars with several speakers from the region including the Bishop of Crediton, Rt Rev Jackie Searle; the Archdeacon of Exeter, Venerable Andrew Deane; Canon Sarah Yardley of Creation Fest, Paul Friend of South-West Youth Ministries, and Tim Moyler of Agapé UK.
The exhibition has been welcomed by the Bishop of Exeter, Rt Rev Robert Atwell. ‘CRE was last at Westpoint in 2015 and much has happened at the local church level since then,’ he said. ‘It is a great opportunity to access new resources, ideas, and practical tools to meet the many challenges of local ministry.’
CRE South West 2022 at Westpoint, Exeter. Opening hours: Wed 23 Feb, 10am-5pm and Thu 24 Feb, 10am-4.30pm. Visit www.creonline.co.uk for more information.
Written By: Steve Goddard