Angela Dickson is 43, single, a former police officer, former pub landlord and a successful business development manager in Nottingham. Before The Convent her career was her priority but she began to ask what any of her material wealth is really worth. That's why she applied to appear in the BBC 2 documentary. She hoped time spent in the convent would help her to discover if there was more to life – and more to her.
Angela Dixon from Mansfield has just spent 40 days and 40 nights living with nuns for a new BBC TWO series, The Convent.
The series follows Angela and three other women on a unique spiritual journey to discover if the nuns' traditional religious values can help them to tackle contemporary problems of relationships, achievement, self-esteem, and meaning in their lives.
Angela was chosen from more than 500 volunteers. She sacrificed friends, family and home comforts and submitted to the strict discipline of convent life - under vows of poverty, obedience and chastity - spending hours in contemplation, silence and prayer.
Why did you do it?
I was in a very stressful job. I was the wrong side of 40 and an opportunity was offered to me to take some time out, to have a think about what I was doing, where I was going, and explore whether there was any need for spirituality in my life. I was an agnostic at that point.
|"I totally relaxed for the first time in my life. I found an inner peace within myself which I am determined to hold on to."|
I'm a single woman so I have to support myself. I was travelling to Nottingham every day - working long hours - managing people as well as selling myself - so it was very stressful.
What surprised you?
I was surprised that the nuns had had lives outside before they went into the convent. Some of them had had professional jobs for many years so they were a lot more human and aware of what was going on in the world than I expected.
The Convent is also quite modern. I had a nice room and a nice bed. One of my main worries was that there wouldn't be enough to eat but there was plenty.
What did you miss?
|Inside The Convent|
Out of the four of us who went in I think I missed life outside the convent the least. I can't say there was anything major that I missed apart from my home and my family.
What did you get out of it?
I got a great deal out of it. The main thing was that I totally relaxed for the first time in my life. I found an inner peace within myself which I am determined to hold on to.
I can't say that I found god but I am incredibly laid back now when I was an incredibly hyper-stressed person before I went in.
I've not gone back into mainstream work.
|Angela's mentor Sister Gabriel|
I'm keeping in touch with the nuns. They write to me, they ring me, they email me... so I have correspondence with different nuns every week. Which is fabulous.
What might the viewers get out of it?
I hope the programme will make people realise there is a different way of life and we don't necessarily have to be on a treadmill.
We can take on peace and spirituality and move our lives in a different direction and be less materialistic. Certainly I feel a lot less materialistic now as a result of the programme.
I did have a few altercations with people whilst I was in there. I was a rule breaker. I was quite naughty. I'm just worried how much the programme will feature on that part of my personality.
The Convent is to be broadcast on BBC 2 from Wednesday, 14 June 2006.