Why UTV newsreader Alison Fleming is turning her back on the spotlight for behind-the-scenes role in public relations
She's one of the best known faces on our television news.
But UTV presenter Alison Fleming is to leave our screens later this year to pursue a new career in public relations.
The mother-of-three spoke to the Belfast Telegraph about her difficult decision to leave the broadcaster after "16 brilliant years" in journalism.
Confirming her departure last night, Alison said she had "agonised" over the decision to leave her high-profile media job, but after careful consideration she knows the time is right.
Alison said: "I have had an incredible 16 years at UTV. I have loved every minute. I will remember it more for the laughs than anything else."
In May Alison is joining the team at LK Communications, a public relations and events consultancy based in Holywood, Co Down, where she lives with husband Damian and their three children Annie (10), Finn (9) and four-year-old Kitty.
The glamorous presenter (42) says that while she is sad to be leaving UTV she is looking forward to the new challenges that face her as an LK Communications account director. On why she is "crossing to the dark side", as PR is sometimes known by journalists, she said: "I'm crossing into the light. It is something I have been thinking about for a while and when the position came up at LK Communications I jumped at it.
"I know the team, they have great clients and it is a super company, so it is an opportunity not to be missed. Hopefully my media experience can bring something really positive to the role."
Alison's media career started in the 1990s when she worked as a freelance journalist for Greer Publications, Saturday Morning Extra, Downtown Radio and Cool FM among others.
She started freelancing for UTV in 1998 and was made staff in 1999. "Shifts came up from the minute I went in and I ended up staying," Alison said. "I was on the news desk, writing bulletins and working on production for UTV Live At Six. I started to present within a few years and when UTV Life was on from 5.30pm to 6pm I produced it."
A number of high-profile women in Northern Ireland's media have jumped ship for pastures new in the last year, such as Natasha Sayee, Denise Watson and Sarah Travers.
And while Sarah made a move from the BBC to UTV, Alison says she has no intentions of returning to the world of journalism.
"This is the career path I want," she said. "I am ready for a new challenge and what a change this will be. I want to thank everyone at UTV for making my time there so great and to everyone who has supported me down the years."
UTV Television managing director Michael Wilson said: "We'll be very sorry to see Alison leave but wish her success in her new career."