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News in Dover Kent

The Bare Facts About Popular Naturist Club

Article published on 2nd July 2010

Phil Medgett. Naturist Club at Sutton Nr. Dover.Reporter YAMURAI ZENDERA and photographer PHIL MEDGETT visited the Invicta Sun Club to get to the bottom of what makes these places so popular.

"IT'S like a parallel universe" our tour guide David tells us as we pass through the wooden gates of the Invicta Sun Club.

Spread over four leafy acres just outside Dover, it has been running since 1946.

Club secretary David, one of our two escorts on a sun-kissed day, extols its virtues further as he strips down to his "uniform" as members jokingly call it.

"It's like being at the best pub you can imagine because of the social life that goes on and because it's supportive and welcoming," he said.

He explains members prefer to be called naturists rather than nudists because "Nudist is a very old fashioned term. It's quite tainted. Naturist is far less evocative."

With that technicality cleared up, we are soon joined by club chairman Veronica – they prefer to use first names only – who fills us in on some of its bare facts. The club is maintained solely by members and everything on site is self-funded.

As we walk down to the central hub, the pavilion, we pass some stunning wildlife which helps create the feeling of the place being in its own world.

About 15 people are on site, and a good majority are sitting outside the pavilion chatting away, almost oblivious to our presence. One cheeky chap is reading a book on the lawn and another is having a swim in the pool.

Veronica said: "It's so relaxed here, you just do what you want to do."

The formula clearly works as the club has attracted successive generations of families over the years and currently has 150 members.

One such long-term regular is mother-of-two Tracey from Sittingbourne, who has been attending with her husband for 20 years.

Today is their seventeenth weekend visit in a row this year.

She said: "My husband grew up here. He used to come with his parents when he was younger. When we had children we decided to come along as family, and it was wonderful. My children are grown up now and they still come here."

Tracey comes to get away from the stresses and strains of everyday life but doesn't keep being a naturist a secret. She said: "I shut that gate and I'm away from work. There's the fresh air here, the exercise.

"Family, work colleagues, everybody knows we are naturists. We are not ashamed of it."

Explaining why she prefers to be naked, she said: "It's just a way of life. Nobody judges you. It's a family club. I just don't think about having clothes here."

Babs, from near Rye, has been coming here with her husband for nearly two decades, after the place was recommended by a neighbour.

She said: "I like the peace and quiet and I'm quite a huge fan of nature. Up here you get a tremendous amount and it's obviously stunning."

And apart from a toothbrush, what else does a naturist pack?

"We do bring clothes," Babs said with a smile. "If it's cold we want to keep warm."

And what do her family and friends make of her pastime?

She said: "My sister says if that's what you like it's fine. When I'm naked I feel free.

"If there are people thinking about it and want to learn more about it, they should come up here and see what it's like."

Invicta has 25 chalets, seven caravans, seven tents and three cabins, along with games courts, a barbecue and indoor activities and self-catering facilities.

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