Grab your tissues and brace yourselves – it’s official. Kate Ritchie has decided to quit Home And Away.

The actress has been with the soap for a record 20 years, playing the character Sally Fletcher.

She said: “I have been blessed with a job that I have loved for the past 20 years and I wouldn’t take back one moment of my time on Home And Away, but I feel that it is time for change.

“My decision to leave the show has not been made lightly and, despite being sad to say goodbye, I am excitedly looking forward to what will be the next chapter of my life.”

The chances are it will include some presenting work. The award-winning actress co-hosted reality singing contest It Takes Two earlier this year, after she competed in the Australian version of the series in 2006.

Tim Worner, Channel Seven’s director of programming and production, said: “It almost feels like she’s moving out of home, so there is some sorrow, but we are also genuinely excited for her as well.

“Seven is very proud of all Kate has achieved in her time with us.

“We wish her as much success with the next part of her career – she’s a great girl and she deserves it.”

Kate’s final scenes will air Down Under in December.