Popular Home and Away star Bec Cartwright has confirmed she will leave the soapie next month as she prepares for another role - motherhood.
News of her exit comes one week after Cartwright, who has played Hayley Lawson on the show since 1998, announced that she was expecting a baby later this year with her tennis star fiancee Lleyton Hewitt.
The 21-year-old star, who recently picked up her first Logie for most popular actress, had hinted in a magazine interview earlier this week that she would leave Summer Bay.
Today in a statement, she announced she was leaving the series for personal reasons, and would film her final scenes with the top-rating show at the end of June.
Cartwright, whose character on the show is also pregnant, said it was a hard decision to make.
"It’s going to be so hard to leave all my friends at Home and Away," she said.
"The last six and a half years have been amazing."
While she had enjoyed her time on the show, Cartwright said it was not possible for her to continue with Home and Away at this stage.
"I’ve had such a great time and learnt so much," said the actress, who became engaged to Hewitt earlier this year after a six-week romance.
"I will always remember my days on Home and Away as the best of my life.
"But at such an important time of my life, I need more time and flexibility away from the day to day demands of the production schedule."
Cartwright will be seen on-air until September and the role of Hayley will be recast.
"I’m so pleased that the character of Hayley will live on and I wish the girl who takes on the role all the best," Cartwright said.
Seven’s Head Of Drama, John Holmes, said the actress would be greatly missed.
"She has been an important part of the Home and Away team," he said.
"Her work in creating the character of Hayley was fittingly rewarded by the winning of the Silver Logie for most popular actress at this year’s Logies."
He said Hayley was "an integral part of our story telling" and it was for this reason that the character would be recast.
"In the best of show business traditions we will recast the character of Hayley, as we have done a number of times during the 18 years of Home And Away’s life," Holmes said.
Former star Vanessa Downing was replaced by Debra Lawrence in the role of Pippa, and more recently, Joel McIlroy replaced Martin Dingle-Wall as Flynn.
The news of her pregnancy last week capped off a big year for Cartwright.
As well as becoming engaged to Hewitt, 23 she also won last year’s season of Dancing With the Stars, topped FHM magazine’s poll of the 100 Sexiest Women for 2005 and announced plans to build an Aids orphanage in Thailand.