Simon Thomas makes his first public appearance with girlfriend Derrina Jebb at ...

Simon Thomas made his first public appearance with girlfriend Derrina Jebb at Cheltenham Festival, 16 months after the tragic death of his wife, Gemma, to cancer at the age of 40.

The former Sky Sports presenter, 46, was seen with his partner Derrina Jebb, 27, as they attended the Gold Cup day in Cheltenham on Friday.

The couple, who met last year, walked side-by-side as they braved the cold weather to spend time at the races together.

Outing: Simon Thomas made his first public appearance with new girlfriend Derrina Jebb at Cheltenham Festival on Friday... 16 months after losing his wife to cancer aged 40

Outing: Simon Thomas made his first public appearance with new girlfriend Derrina Jebb at Cheltenham Festival on Friday... 16 months after losing his wife to cancer aged 40

Derrina looked chic in a floral dress and a black longline coat which had a faux-fur trim to shield her from the winter chill.

She wore her brunette locks in a sleek style and complemented her ensemble by wearing a light brown hat and matching boots. 

While Simon looked sharp in a grey double-breasted jacket, which he donned over a black shirt and navy blue trousers.

Smitten: The couple, who met last year, walked side-by-side as they braved the cold weather to spend time at the races together

Smitten: The couple, who met last year, walked side-by-side as they braved the cold weather to spend time at the races together

Handsome: Simon looked sharp in a grey double-breasted jacket, which he donned over a black shirt and navy blue trousers

Stylish: Derrina looked chic in a floral dress and a black longline coat which had a faux-fur trim to shield her from the winter chill

Stylish: Derrina looked chic in a floral dress and a black longline coat which had a faux-fur trim to shield her from the winter chill

Their outing together comes after Simon spoke to BBC Radio 5 Live in November last year, where he moved millions with his heartbreaking comments in the wake of his wife's death.

He said his new relationship has been 'an incredible support' for him, and admitted he could be falling in love, but said Gemma could never be replaced.

The father-of-one said: 'I’m very aware she was someone I didn’t know before and have got to know over the last few weeks and months.

Finding happiness: Their outing together comes after Simon spoke to BBC Radio 5 Live in November last year, where he said he was in the 'early stages' of a new relationship

Finding happiness: Their outing together comes after Simon spoke to BBC Radio 5 Live in November last year, where he said he was in the 'early stages' of a new relationship

Sad: Simon paid tribute to his wife Gemma (pictured) a year after her death, admitting that he had been dreading November as it signified the first anniversary of his loss

Sad: Simon paid tribute to his wife Gemma (pictured) a year after her death, admitting that he had been dreading November as it signified the first anniversary of his loss

'Right from the early stages – she had this empathy towards me. She’s Christian as well and that’s important to me as a man of faith.

'She’s been an incredible support for me. She was the only person who would always pick up the phone.

'What I saw in her, I saw in Gemma. When she said my phone is always on, she meant it.'

 He said: 'I’ve got two choices. Give up – I can’t do that, I don’t want to do that, I’ve got a boy to bring up, I promised Gemma. The only other choice then is you walk'

 He said: 'I’ve got two choices. Give up – I can’t do that, I don’t want to do that, I’ve got a boy to bring up, I promised Gemma. The only other choice then is you walk'

 

 

Reaching out: Simon has been open about his mourning, sharing his grief with his Instagram followers

Reaching out: Simon has been open about his mourning, sharing his grief with his Instagram followers

When asked if he is in love and he told Anna Foster: 'I’m getting there, yeah. It’s in many ways strange to feel that way again. 

'Sometimes I struggle with the phrase "moving on" – I don’t think you ever really do move on from what’s happened.

'That hole that a loved one leaves doesn’t shrink over time. Life begins to grow around it. You begin to deal with some of the challenges grief throws up, being a single parent throws up.

He continued: 'I’ve got two choices. Give up – I can’t do that, I don’t want to do that, I’ve got a boy to bring up, I promised Gemma. The only other choice then is you walk.

Heartbreaking: Simon shared this touching letter his son Ethan wrote him on Instagram

Heartbreaking: Simon shared this touching letter his son Ethan wrote him on Instagram

'Right from the start I felt, I’ve got to find life again.' 

Simon also talked about the importance of understanding Gemma has not been ‘replaced’.

He said: 'This is potentially an area that can cause a lot of hurt. There’s a lot of misunderstanding that comes from this – we equate meeting someone else with forgetting the person who’s gone.

'There are no shoes left to be filled. There will never be another Gemma. We are unique – we come to the table with our different personalities. If you’re embarking on a new relationship, comparing is ultimately a futile task. There is no comparison.

'It’s not my fault what happened to Gemma – it’s nobody’s fault. This person is helping me define life again, helping me to feel happy again.

'I can completely understand why some people do [feel that way]. But for most people we lose, they won’t want us to remain in this empty landscape of grief.' 

Terrible time: Aged just 40, Gemma (seen with Ethan) died just four days after being diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia in November 2017

Terrible time: Aged just 40, Gemma (seen with Ethan) died just four days after being diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia in November 2017

On the prospect of introducing his new relationship to his late wife’s family, Simon talked about the sensitivities around this and how they plan to take their time.

He said: 'The hard thing for Gemma’s family – they’ve not met her yet. She doesn’t want to appear insensitive, launching in there, "here I am guys".

'When the time comes for them to meet, this will be a very physical representation, it will be a very painful reminder of the physical absence of Gemma. We do need to take our time.

'The stuff that goes on around us can be quite difficult to navigate at times. The rules of engagement around it are really quite difficult.

'She has in truth chosen a much rockier path than she could have

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