Essex naturist camp keen for more exposure on its 50th birthday
A NATURIST camp is celebrating its 50th anniversary this month.
The Oakwood Sun Club which is nestled down a country lane between Brentwood and Romford currently has a membership of more than 70.
The club, which was formed in 1962, is now hoping even more people will give their nudist way of life a go with a series of special open days.
The club's chairman Brian Stafferton said: "We've been members for about five years and like many people we just stumbled across naturism when we were on holiday.
"We decided we'd try and find a club in England and after searching on the internet we found this one and as we live in Basildon it was so handy so we came for a visit.
"That initial moment when you take your clothes off is so nerve-racking, but once you've done it the sense of freedom you feel is amazing."
Chairman for just over three years, 53-year-old Brian found the club a lifeline when he found out that he had cancer last year.
The retail manager said: "When I was diagnosed with cancer, and had to have two gruelling bouts of chemotherapy, the club became a place I could escape to and relax.
"I could leave all the horrible cancer stuff behind and just enjoy myself here."
Brian's 52-year-old wife Joy, who is also a member, said: "Everyone can just be themselves here and nobody is judged.
"I was so nervous on our first visit but I love it here and would urge everyone to come and have a go.
"There's nothing better than working all week then coming here to completely chill."
With a clubhouse, sunbathing lawn, swimming pool and various outdoor activities the Oakwood Sun Club offers its members a true haven away from the outside world.
One of the founding members, 76-year-old Terry Crow, said: "We're incredibly proud the club has been going for 50 years and we're certain that we'll keep going strong.
"You really can't describe being a naturist – it is something that you have to experience to fully understand it.
"Everyone has lumps and bumps, we're all the same so why not just enjoy yourself?
"We're a really friendly club here.
"We've got members aged from 22 to in their 80s and members from all walks of life.
"We've got undertakers, teachers but none of that matters because everyone is equal here."
Bob Grieve, 61, from Wickford, who has been a member for a year, said: "I always liked taking my clothes off when I was younger and you just feel so relaxed and free here.
"We have a set of rules that members stick to and before anyone joins us they must have three meetings so we know and they know it's for them.
"It's not anything sexual, it's just a way of life that we all enjoy and have a fantastic club to be part of.
"I don't think nudism will ever go out of fashion and we hope with our open days even more new members will come along and try it.
"You really can't understand it until you've experienced it for yourself."
For more information about the Oakwood Sun Club and their next open day, call Mr Grieve on 07960 109 041 or visit www.oakwoodsunclub.co.uk