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Fern Britton announces she has split from husband Phil Vickery after '20 happy years together'

The couple wed in 2000

Jenni McKnight

Fern Britton has shocked fans by announcing on social media that she and husband Phil Vickery have decided to separate after "20 happy years together". Taking to Twitter on Wednesday evening, the former This Morning star wrote: "After more than 20 happy years together, Phil and I have decided to go our separate ways. We will always share a great friendship and our lovely children. We would appreciate it if our privacy is respected at this time. Thank you for your continued kindness and support." TV chef Phil shared the same message on his own Twitter page.

Followers were quick to offer their support to Fern, with one commenting: "You and Phil Vickery are both amazing people and I wish u both the very best for the future." Another said: "I’m sorry to hear that Fern. Hope you’ll be ok. You’ve had a tough few months so I hope the coming ones aren’t so tough." A third wrote: "Oh Fern that's so sad! Sending you lots of love and happiness to you and the family." And a fourth added: "Sorry to hear this wish you both the best of luck for the future and at least you can stay good friends"

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The couple wed in 2000

MORE: Former This Morning star Fern Britton announces heartbreaking news

It was only last year that Fern gave a candid interview about her marriage to Phil, revealing they had not spent much time together in the previous 12 months. "We haven't seen much of each other in the past year, as I have been on tour with Calendar Girls and he has been filming, but our solid base is absolutely there," the TV star told Good Housekeeping.

And Fern had nothing but kind words to say about her husband. She added: "He is an incredible man and he does make me laugh a lot. He has always been my best friend and he always says I'm his best friend, too, which is amazing." Fern and Phil share 18-year-old daughter Winnie. Fern is also a mother to twin sons Jack and Harry, 25, and a daughter Grace, 22, from her first marriage to Clive Jones.

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