Ashley Banjo and his childhood sweetheart wife have parted ways, the Diversity star has announced.
The 2009 Britain’s Got Talent winner and Francesca Abbott have been together for 16 years, getting engaged in 2014 then marrying in 2015.
Ashley, 31, also shares two children – Rose, three, and Micah, two – with his ex, whom they now co-parent.
Announcing their separation in a heartfelt statement, the Dancing On Ice judge said it had taken ‘much thought and consideration’ to arrive at the big life change.
He confirmed that it was actually over a year ago that they made the decision to go their separate ways romantically.
Revealing his personal news on his Instagram Story, Ashley penned: ‘Nearly 18 months ago we took the difficult decision to separate. After being together for over 16 years, since we were teenagers, this is not a decision that has been taken lightly.
‘It has not been easy and the processing of the situation has not been fast by any means. But we feel that as we approach the new year it is time to share this news with others.
‘Our main focus will always be our beautiful children. Every decision that has been made is to make sure we can continue as a loving family and give the very best of ourselves as parents.’
The dance star continued: ‘Raising Rose and Micah in a healthy and happy environment is the most important thing to both of us.
‘Sometimes after so many years people just move in different directions, but we do so lovingly and we continue to try and be both the best parents possible and the best of friends to each other.’
He concluded by asking for privacy from his followers: ‘We have always been private with our personal lives, so we kindly ask that everyone please continue to respect that privacy. We won’t be making any further comment on the situation.’
The former couple signed off: ‘Thank you… Lots of Love Ash and Chess x’
Francesca is also a dancer and a member of a troupe called Out of the Shadows, for whom Ashley has previously choreographed.
Speaking to The Sun previously, Ashley admitted it was hard when his busy schedule kept him away from his family.
Describing his life at the time as ‘amazing’ raising children, he said: ‘You always hear the words that it is life-changing when you have kids, but you never really know what it is like until you experience it.
‘Kids are the best thing that has happened to me in my life. But oh my gosh, I feel like I experience dad guilt 24/7 if I am honest.’
‘All you want to be is a good dad, and it’s trying to get the right balance that I have probably found most challenging,’ he confessed.
‘Trying to make sure my kids feel like I am present, but also trying to provide for them. It’s knowing that you have to walk out the door.’