A 'LIFE-AFFIRMING' and honest book about bereavement has been published by former Sky Sports and Blue Peter presenter Simon Thomas.

Simon, who lives locally, lost his wife Gemma, aged just 40, three days after she was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia.

In his book, he addresses the question: how do you carry on when the love of your life is taken from you at such an early age?

Left to bring up their young son alone, Simon had to find ways to cope with his own suffering, and somehow learn to function as a single parent to his son, Ethan.

Exploring themes of loss, bereavement, depression, and faith, Simon's book begins on the day his wife died, and then goes through the next year in his life as he tries to come to terms with his loss.

With flashbacks exploring Simon and Gemma's relationship, as well as Simon's inspirational “snackbox notes” to Ethan, and contributions from Ethan himself, the book is as much about life as it is about learning to cope with death.

After coming to prominence on the BBC’s iconic children's magazine series, Blue Peter in 1999, Simon was loved and admired by a generation of children – and their parents.

He made the move to Sky Sports in 2005, and soon became the face of Sky’s Premier League football coverage.

Speaking about why he felt he needed to write the book, he said: "I knew for sure that I wanted to write a book of some kind – maybe for the family, or something bigger.

"When I started blogging, I found it cathartic, and without even meaning to, I started to hear that my writing was helping others too.

"That's when I knew I needed to write a book – not just to help others, but to tell Gemma’s story.

"And most of all, because I wanted to show that even in the most desperate situations, you can still find light in the darkness.

"I chose Trigger because with the mental health issues I'd experienced, I wanted to work with people who really understood mental health - and that’s the embodiment of Trigger."

Trigger’s senior editor, Chris Lomas, said: "What struck me most about Simon's writing was his absolute honesty.

"Simon doesn’t hold back from telling his story, exactly as it happened.

"But that doesn’t mean that this is a book that will revel in darkness; Simon has captured so much joy as well as pain.

"The story of Simon’s life with Gemma and Ethan will connect with so many people.

"This is going to be a truly life-affirming book, and a real celebration of Gemma’s life."

Simon will be at Waterstones Reading on Wednesday, June 26 at 7.30pm.

He will be in conversation with Francesca Perryman about the new book, and a book signing will follow.

ickets are £4 and are available in store or online.

Contributing proceeds from the book go towards global mental health charity The Shaw Mind Foundation.