Rumours have been swirling for months about Real Housewives of Cheshire star Leanne Brown’s departure from the hit show.
Now, the glamorous mum-of-three has CONFIRMED for the first time that she has quit the show – as she reveals plans to raise vital funds for charities to empower women across the world.
Leanne and fellow Real Housewife Dawn Ward have been embroiled in a financial row which, while never fully explained on the ITVBe show, has dominated the recent three series.
Leanne Brown at her t-shirt launch in Alderley Edge
(Image: Stephen Farrell)
And Leanne, wife of former Manchester United player Wes Brown, says it was simply too upsetting to continue filming while the row with her former friend Dawn remains in the hands of lawyers.
Leanne says: “It was really difficult making the decision to leave, I loved my time on the show, and I never say never about going back, but with things as they are I won’t be going back, it’s just too difficult.
“It was affecting me and my family.
Leanne and Wes Brown
“At the end of the last series it got too hard, it wasn’t fun for me anymore.
“Stuff outside of the show wasn’t being shown which was frustrating.
“Outside of the show I can distance myself to an extent, it’s still going back and forth between lawyers, it’s heartbreaking.”
Leanne said the row with Dawn was becoming “all consuming” for her and she needed to step back.
She says: “I just couldn’t be in her space, or talk about what she’s saying any more in the show.
“I had to stand back and I realised the full truth would never get put out there.”
Leanne Brown (pictured in red) has been part of the Real Housewives of Cheshire since the show started in 2015
Leanne says she has no regrets about being part of the show, which follows the lives of a group of wealthy businesswomen and socialites in Cheshire.
She has been with the show since it started in 2015.
She said: “It has given me a platform, and the space to find myself, it wasn’t all bad.
“But looking back, I can see that doing that show, it’s been such a journey for me from start to finish, moving away from Dawn has allowed me to become who I am and stand on my own two feet. And just be my own person and do my own thing. It has been quite inspiring to me to find how strong I can really be.
“When I was filming I was becoming a different person – I was getting upset talking about it, and the frustration that the truth was never 100 per cent out there, that’s down to legal reasons and I can’t get away from that.”
The Real Housewives of Cheshire cast pictured in 2015 – including Dawn Ward, Ampika Pickston, Tanya Bardsley, Leanne Brown, Lauren Simon and Magali Gorre
(Image: Publicity Picture)
Leaving the show has enabled Leanne to channel her energies into humanitarian work, and she has just returned from a heartbreaking trip to Africa with the charity One Woman At A Time.
The charity aims to assist women in gaining education and training – and to have choices about their lives which are often taken away from them.
She is now raising funds for the charity with the launch of a T-shirt range with Irlam clothing firm OBD (Outspoken by Design) as well as organising her inuagural Empowerment Ball at Gorton Monastery on March 3.
Leanne says: “Obviously with regards to leaving the show and coming away from that, I wanted to put my energy into something good. This charity resonated with me so much, it’s about women, it’s about children, I’ve got three girls myself and I want them to be inspired.
Leanne with her daughters at The Smokehouse
(Image: Stephen Farrell)
“I want them to know that it isn’t everyone’s reality where we live, the privileges we have, even in this country.
“It’s important for them to see a different culture and way of life and for them to know how lucky they are, and to see further than Cheshire.
“Going to Africa last month was a huge eye opener, it was so emotionally draining to see how families get by, the way they live. The girls there are so desperate to be in school because they live in fear of being sold to marriage.”
Leanne was also horrified to learn more about the practice of female genital mutiliation.
She said: “I met someone whose daughter was “cut” at 7. My Lola is 7, it’s such a horrific thing to happen. It just resonated with me.”
Leanne helped to launch her charity T-shirts at an event in Alderley Edge on Friday night alongside OBD designer Natalie Fisher, with slogans including “Soul Sister” and “One and only”.
She was supported by her Real Housewives pals Tanya Bardsley, who wore one of the slogan tops, as well as blonde bombshell Ester Dee.
Tanya Bardsley and Ester Dee join Leanne Brown for her t-shirt launch in Alderley Edge
(Image: Stephen Farrell)
Tanya said: “Me and Leanne always support each other, Leanne is a regular at my boutique and I will always be here for her, I am really proud of how amazing the t-shirts are.”
Leanne added: “It’s all about empowering statements, empowering women.”
Leanne has also been involved with a women‘s charity in India where her husband Wes now plays for the Kerala Blasters, and he has also become an ambassador for the cause.
As well as her charity work, Leanne hasn’t ruled out further TV work – and her dream would be to star in Strictly Come Dancing one day.
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She’s also writing her autobiography – and hopes that it will finally be her chance to have her say.
She says: “I’ve been writing my book for a while now, about how I grew up, what’s inspired me, being in the show, my trips to Africa. I can put everything down and tell the truth in my own words.”
Tickets for Leanne’s Empowerment Ball are available from Eventbrite.co.uk