Sally Fletcher is excited about life away from Summer Bay… and so is Home and Away‘s outgoing actress Kate Ritchie!

After two decades playing Sally you’ve decided to leave. Why?
“I’ve been blessed with a job that I’ve loved for the past 20 years and I wouldn’t take back one moment but I felt it was time for a change.”

How old were you when you started on the show?
“I was eight when I got the part of Sally and I’m now a 29-year-old woman who just really needs to go out there and do something different!”

So it was your own decision to go?
“It was and it wasn’t one I made lightly!”

You’re in the Guinness Book of Records aren’t you?
“Yes, I’m officially a world record breaker! Along with Ray Meagher who plays Alf. We both appeared in the pilot of Home and Away 20 years ago and that makes us the longest-running soap opera actors in Australia!”

And you’ve scooped a few awards in that time?
“I’ve been honoured to win not only the Silver Logie for Most Popular Actress in 2006 but last year I won the Gold Logie for Most Popular Personality on Australian TV. It was a very special moment.”

So what’s next for Kate then?
“I’m excited about the future. Maybe I just need a holiday – but not yet! In January I started working on the national breakfast radio show. It’s certainly different from Summer Bay!”

And what about Sally… she’s off to see the world with Cassie?
“Yes, she and Cassie have decided to take control of their lives and go travelling.”

How does Sally feel about leaving?
“Sad and excited. She’s overwhelmed when she turns up to what she thinks will be a quiet leaving speech at the school and discovers they’ve organised a farewell concert for her.”

And there are some surprise guests?
“Her adoptive mum Pippa and adoptive brother and sister Stephen and Carly make a surprise appearance. Sally’s really touched.”

But then she goes home and finds her house ransacked?
“She’s horrified – the place is a mess. But it’s not to do with her… it’s down to a man called Noel who’s trying to force Ric into an illegal boxing match. Sally says she’ll stay on to sort things out but Pippa persuades her to leave as planned.”

And she leaves – just like that. No big dramas?
“Well, she has a tearful farewell with Alf on the beach then leaves him and the Bay. I did once say I’d like a dramatic exit but I didn’t want her killed off! It is, of course, very emotional. But Sally’s got an exciting future ahead… and so have I!