TV presenter Simon Thomas has announced that he has been made a President at Bloodwise.
He will focus on contributing to the newly created Gemma Thomas Fund for Bloodwise, to raise money for research into the type of leukaemia that Gemma died suddenly from a year ago.
Speaking on ITV’s Loose Women on Monday 10 December, the former Sky Sports and Blue Peter presenter reflected on a life-changing year since Gemma’s death to acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) on 24 November 2017, and what the future now holds for him as he pledges his support to the charity.
Simon will continue to raise awareness of AML and other blood cancers, as well as leading on fundraising activities for the Gemma Thomas Fund. Plans are already underway for an ambitious and unique fundraising challenge with Simon, family, celebrities and those affected by blood cancer.
Bloodwise will invest funds raised by Simon into research projects that focus on improving understanding of AML and finding more effective treatments for the disease. Survival rates for this aggressive type of blood cancer are shockingly low, with just 15% of people surviving for five years or more after diagnosis.
Ahead of the television interview, Simon said: “It makes my heart glad because it’s bringing something good out of the utter wreckage of losing Gemma. I want to make sure more people are aware of the signs and symptoms of all blood cancers, so we can improve early diagnosis and give people that fighting chance. Over half the population cannot name a single symptom of the disease, and yet it kills more people than breast or prostate cancer every year. That awareness has to improve.
“I am also determined to raise as much money as I can. I want to invest in research that will allow us to better predict when this disease might happen and find new treatments to save more lives - meaning other families don't have to experience such a devastating loss.”
AML affects around 2,500 people every year in the UK. Symptoms include persistent and unexplained tiredness, infections, fever, bleeding, and weight loss.
Gemma, who was experiencing flu-like symptoms, visited her GP three times over the course of six days and each time was told to go home and rest. Finally admitted to hospital, she died from AML just four days later.
Simon has been working closely with Bloodwise since the beginning of the year, helping to raise awareness of the disease through the media and social media, including a highly successful Twitter takeover for the charity during September’s Blood Cancer Awareness Month.
He joins presenter Ore Oduba on stage at the Royal Albert Hall for ‘Christmas Carols with Bloodwise’ on Tuesday 11 December to share his reasons for taking on this role with the 5,000 strong audience, many of whom have been directly affected by blood cancer.
On Simon’s appointment, Gemma Peters, chief executive of Bloodwise, said: “It is a huge privilege to welcome Simon in his role as a President at Bloodwise, and I look forward to working with him over the next few years to improve the outlook for those with blood cancer.
"Gemma's legacy has already had such a positive impact on the lives of so many. We are proud that this will continue through the work of the Gemma Thomas Fund, as we look to improve our understanding of blood cancer and find better treatments, especially for acute myeloid leukaemia - for which survival rates remain so poor.
"With Simon's exciting fundraising plans on the horizon and plenty of others in the pipeline, we are so excited by the prospect of what we will ultimately achieve together for all those affected by blood cancer.”