Actress Kate Ritchie has announced that she is leaving 'Home and Away' after playing Sally Fletcher on the soap for 20 years.

The actress, who has been a permanent member of the soap's cast since the pilot aired, said that she was sad to be leaving the show but also excited about pursuing new projects.

Ritchie said in a statement: "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."

Director of programming and production for Seven Network, Tim Worner, said: "Seven is very proud of all that Kate has achieved in her time with us."

"It's been an amazing ride and it's been a great joy to see her grow as a performer and a person over that time."

"We wish her as much success with the next part of her career - she's a great girl and she deserves it."

Ritchie will reportedly film her final scenes for the show in December of this year.