A great-grandfather who has been a naturist all his life says his motto is ‘throw away the clothes, throw away the worries’. Derek Wooldridge, 78, says naturism is “brilliant” for people’s mental health. While he says it can relive stress, he maintains that “it’s not about sex at all.”
Derek, a now single retired mechanical engineer from Norwich, says he first tried naturism at the age of three while out in the sun. He likes to go skinny dipping and says the only time he used trucks was when he went to the pool as a kid with his school.
The three-time divorcee said he regularly goes on naturist vacations and has taken his ex-wives on those trips with him. “Neither of my wives ever saw it as a problem that I was a naturist, I think it made them like it more, and they accepted it when we went on vacation, they found it relaxing too,” he told the PA news agency.
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Derek said his three children are also naturists, but he has never stripped with his family as an adult. He said that he was comfortable being a naturist even from a young age, recalling a particular incident when he was a child.
“I was playing with one of my friends who lived across the street and we went down to his garden,” Derek said. “The sun was shining and it was a beautiful day.
“We took our clothes off and it felt really good. Her dad came out of the house and saw us without clothes, and he went crazy.
“He started chasing us down the road and couldn’t figure out what we did wrong. I’ve been a naturist ever since.”
Derek said the rebuke didn’t put him off. I wouldn’t call myself a squeamish, but I was taught that other people can have their opinions and you can have yours, and sometimes they differ.
“If they do, you have to stand your ground.” When the sun is out, Derek says he likes to take off his gear in the privacy of his backyard or in more public places when no one else is around.
He said: “I get naked in the sun in my garden or somewhere where I can be out of people’s way. I don’t want to cause any trouble.
“I go down the river a lot and swim naked. I feel so relaxed and it’s lovely when I do that.
“The only time I’ve ever worn a costume is when I went to the pools when I was at school.” Derek says that being a naturist has had a positive impact on his mental health.
He said: “It relieves stress without end. He is very liberating”. He recalled an incident when he was on vacation with an ex-wife and his car broke down, while his spouse was stark naked.
He laughed: “I ran out of gas and was waiting for someone to drive us to a garage, and I changed into my clothes to stand by the car. But my ex-wife didn’t put hers on, and when someone came to help her she was completely naked and wearing her seatbelt.
“I think they were both a little surprised.” Derek’s children and their families are naturists, but they tend not to socialize together in the buff.
He said: “One of my sons is in a small naturist group and they go off in their caravan with other naturists, and they trust their group and feel safe. But oftentimes, naturists don’t mix with different generations, and we don’t as a family.
“However, I once took my ex-wife and her daughter to a nude beach, and we were all on the beach naked. We were happy just doing our thing and we were the only ones there.”
To anyone considering trying naturism for the first time, Derek says, “You may think other people are looking at you, but everyone’s only thinking about how they look, so there’s nothing to worry about.”
Derek thinks there are a lot of misconceptions about being a naturist, especially that it’s sexual. He said: “It’s to relieve stress, but it’s not about sex at all. I’ve been on naturist beaches with women, and sometimes they feel uncomfortable if non-naturists keep looking at them, and I would say they generally feel safer at naturist camps.
“When you’re in a group of naturists, it’s relaxing because you know the people around you are there for the same reasons you are.” Derek said that he would recommend trying naturism to anyone.
He said: “My motto is throw away clothes, throw away worries. Naturism is brilliant for everyone’s mental health.”