TV Football Presenter Warns Churches

As Covid-19 restrictions are lifted churches will have to learn a whole new way to present services.

Simon Thomas, a former Blue Peter and Sky Sports presenter, told visitors to the Christian Resources Exhibition at Westpoint, Exeter (Feb 23-24), that online services present a whole new ball game to pastors and preachers.

‘When you are leading a service or preaching it is difficult to decide whether to look at the congregation or the camera but unless you look at the camera those watching cannot feel fully involved,’ said Simon. ‘If you forget about your online audience very soon you will not have one.’

Simon paid his first visit to the Christian Resources Exhibition as a 12-year-old when his late father, a vicar, took him.

‘The exhibition has advanced so much,’ he said. ‘There is something here for every aspect of church life. It really is a must for Christians.’

Simon, whose wife Gemma died suddenly from acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) four days after being admitted to hospital in 2017, has dedicated himself to increasing awareness of AML and raise funds to help fund research into cancer.

Gemma had visited her local GP three times over six days and on each occasion was told to rest at home from flu-like symptoms. Survival rates for this aggressive type of blood cancer are dreadfully low – with only about 15 percent of some 2,500 people with it surviving for five years or more after diagnosis.

Simon, 49, launched the Gemma Thomas Fund to raise awareness and money for research and was then appointed as President of Blood Cancer UK, then known as Bloodwise.

‘I want to make sure that 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.

AML symptoms include persistent and unexplained tiredness, infections, fever, bleeding, and weight loss.

He was also able to sign copies of his book, Love Interrupted, the story of those sad days and his recovery.

Simon, the son of a Church of England vicar who sadly died last year, worked on Blue Peter for six years during which time he ran two London Marathons and two Great North Runs and made more than 40 solo sky dives, also presenting the Queen with a gold Blue Peter Badge. On one of his early sky dives his parachute did not open until two instructors jumping with him bumped it to make it open.

He joined Sky in 2005 and presented live Premier League football on Sky Sports from 2016 to 2018 and is currently presenting Premier football coverage on Prime Video, a streaming service offered by Amazon.

Last year Simon married Derrina Jebb, the daughter of a Methodist Church minister. His son Ethan was one of the Best Men at the wedding in Norwich Cathedral.

They live in Buckinghamshire.

Written by:  Dave Hall 

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