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Page last updated at 11:44 GMT, Thursday, 3 September 2009 12:44 UK
Do you dare to go bare in public?
By Heather Driscoll-Woodford
BBC Surrey

Naked woman
Most of us would not dream of baring our essentials in full view of the public

Baring all in public causes controversy at the best of times and Justin Holwell must have known this when he posed naked on a Trafalgar Square plinth.

Anthony Gormley's One and Other live artwork has apparently been a good excuse for several people to strip off.

But forget the big city, the leaf lined streets of Surrey are proving to be a hotbed of would-be naturists!

You can find naked folk at Kempton Park racetrack, patriotically draped in flags or rambling along our footpaths!

It's the human form, everyone's the same, it's not like I'm showing off something that no one else has got
Justin Holwell

In plinth performer Justin Holwell's case, at least one person in the crowd took offence at having to view him unclothed.

Mark Williams-Thomas, a former Surrey Detective constable, was so upset he asked the police to intervene.

But far from arresting the pink poseur, the police refused, saying it's not a crime to appear naked in public.

So Justin completed his allotted hour, as naked as the day he was born, and Mr Williams-Thomas was left to lodge a formal complaint.

I have always been under the misguided impression that men could get arrested for baring all in a public place, but us ladies would just receive a ticking off.

Not that I have ever considered flinging my clothes off with gay abandon in public, you understand. But it was always a comfort to know that I couldn't get into too much trouble should I decide to.

Richard Branson
Surrey born Richard Branson takes it all off for a Virgin advert

However it seems I was wrong on both counts and that anyone can do it, supposedly without fear of arrest, so long as it is not done in a lewd or obscene manner.

I suspect this news will not have you dashing outside in the altogether though.

I'm sure you, like me, have no wish to show the world your birthday suit in all its goose-bumped glory.

However, there are those, Mr Holwell included, who are happy to do just that.

Take Surrey born entrepreneur Richard Branson. He's been pictured in the past, frolicking in the sea for an advertising campaign, wearing a big grin and nothing else.

Then there is the recent tribute to Lady Godiva, at Kempton Park racecourse, bravely performed by Chloe Tweedie, Alex Finch, Emily Taylor and Emma Glover.

The four plucky gals gave bare-back riding a new meaning when they thundered down the race track naked, to raise the profile (and no doubt a few eyebrows) of the track's first ever Ladies Day.

Girls on horseback
Ladies Day will never be quite the same at Kempton Park

Another local lass, Chrissie Cox from Frimley, has joined the army of ladies who stripped off for the 2010 Garrison Girls Calendar.

The models are all wives of servicemen and posed as part of a fundraising drive for Help for Heroes and Combat Stress.

But not everyone has got away with disrobing in public.

Spare a thought for walker Bernard Boase from Kingston, who almost fell foul of the law in 2007 when he attempted a naked stroll, along with fifteen other ramblers in the raw.

The police took a very dim view of the event and sent 10 officers and a couple of patrol cars to ask them to cover up, in an operation code-named somewhat inappropriately "Thistle"!

Bernard was arrested and charged with harassment when he refused the request, but the Crown Prosecution Service later dropped the charges.

He claimed afterwards that most passers-by were happy to see a group of naked middle aged men in hiking boots.

Naked ramblers
Naked rambling is only for the brave and those who can stand the cold

Before them all of course, was Erica Roe, an enthusiastic young lady from Petersfield.

She made the headlines when she raced bare chested across the pitch at Twickenham in the early '80's, during an England v Australia rugby match.

Her "streak" and the careful placing of a policeman's helmet to cover her modesty afterwards, became legendary, earning her a place in the DD-list celebrity stakes, as well as a few thousand pounds in appearance fees.

Today, with the charity calendar season fast approaching, I expect we will be seeing a few more bottoms and bosoms on show, as the fearless among us join the growing ranks of Surrey residents going au naturel.

So, those of you who are easily offended should probably look away now.


Would you take your clothes off in public? And for what reason? E-mail us and tell us your views on this subject.

Why yes I would, and I do. I'm one of the many free range naturists who enjoy naked rambling, I even know of several in Surrey who are the same, we share our experiences on the Secret Naturist Society forum. I have a quiet bit of countryside in Worcestershire where I enjoy my naked ramblings, there is a club, the Singles Outdoor Club, that has a number of organised group walks throughout the south of England, then there is the Somerset Strolling Bears, and Coast and Country in the north east.

In May 2009 I did a charity walk, much of which was done naked. Along with a number of others we walked the full 177 miles Offa's Dyke.

So, would I take my clothes off in public, yes I would, for my own gratification, but not as a public spectacle for the benefit of anyone else! I enjoy my naked moments in the sun and air, it is and excellent way to de-stress and relax, so getting naked for a stunt does not appeal to me at all.

Pete Knight

Nude plinth man sparks complaint
02 Sep 09 |  London
Plinth nudist ordered to cover up
12 Aug 09 |  Arts & Culture
Police 'harassed' naked walkers
01 Nov 07 |  Dorset
The view from the Fourth Plinth
06 Jul 09 |  Arts & Culture


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