One of the BBC’s best known reporters in Northern Ireland has abandoned her career in front of the camera for a new life as a nun.
Political correspondent Martina Purdy was pictured on the Falls Road in Belfast as she made her way from the Adoration Convent to Sunday Mass at St Peter’s Cathedral in the company of six nuns.
In what are surely some of her final postings on social media, she was shocked her followers on Twitter with news of a “very personal decision” to quit her job as a journalist after 25 years “for a completely different way of life”. She has traded the cacophony of television news and social media for the tranquillity of life in a “contemplative community”.
Ms Purdy, who was a well-known figure on Northern Ireland television, known for her reports from the Stormont parliament, is to become one of the Adoration Sisters – whose activities include making altar bread.
She returned to Twitter to say she had been “truly overwhelmed” by the public response to her announcement that she was leaving the BBC, where she has worked for the past 15 years.
“Thanks all for your generosity – from those of my faith, other faiths, those trying to find Him, those trying to ignore Him. God bless you,” she tweeted.
In another post she said: “I’m not planning a running commentary – but I'm truly overwhelmed. x”
Ms Purdy, who was born in Belfast but raised in Canada, has been covering Northern Irish politics since 1991, and followed the peace process at every stage. “I know many people will not understand this decision. It is a decision that I have not come to lightly, but it is one that I make with love and great joy,” she said in a statement. “I ask for prayers as I embark on this path with all humility, faith and trust.”
She described journalism as “an immensely rewarding profession” and said she would miss working with her BBC colleagues. “I also want to wish the politicians well in their future endeavours,” she said.
Kathleen Carragher, the head of news at BBC Northern Ireland, paid tribute to Ms Purdy and described the reporter as one of the broadcaster’s “most talented and hard-working correspondents”. She said: “We will miss her wit and wisdom. I wish her happiness and fulfilment in her new life.”