“This is Essex, why aren’t some of you drunk yet?” exclaims Gok Wan, as he bounces onto a podium in the centre of the room.
Once he’s there, he has all of the 300 women in attendance up on their feet to dance to the music and get their arms waving.
It’s a jovial and upbeat opening, one which sums up the feeling the entire show brings along.
Gok Wan is taking his “One Size Fits All” show across the UK, and amongst the many popular city stops such as Manchester, Bristol and Birmingham, he’s chosen the Three Rivers Golf and Country Club in Cold Norton, near Maldon, to kick things off.
Over the next five hours we’re given a filling brunch, catwalks, a body shape masterclass, and Q&A session with the stylist dishing out his own personal tips.
Several Essex brands and boutiques make an appearance, including Blossom Boutique in Tiptree, The Bra Consultancy in Bicknacre, and The Prom Shop in Colchester.
This is all interwoven with the host’s delightfully charming charisma and approachability, though not without the dosage of a wicked sense of humour and many, many innuendos.
Early on into the show he picks out Matthew, one of the very few male guests, and for the rest of the show proceeds to embarrass him with cheeky but perfectly innocent homoerotic banter.
Wan rose to fame in the mid 2000s with his Channel 4 show How to Look Good Naked, which was entirely centred on body positivity for women all shapes and sizes.
Now, 12 years since it first aired, his motto remains firmly in place.
He tells the crowd: “Your body does so many amazing things every day, it’s your body and you can love it however you like.
“Every single person deserves to feel gorgeous and to look gorgeous, to be respected for who they are, regardless of their age or their size.”
One of the show’s delights sees Wan pick out two women from the audience at random for a mini-makeover with a team of stylists.
They’re taken to one side and pampered up whilst the models – who are a delightfully diverse group of beautiful women – show off Essex’s finest fashion products.
When Wan’s team reveal their makeovers to the women, one gets quite emotional, and Wan comforts her, reassuring her of her beauty.
But alongside the great body positivity vibes, Wan also hammered home his message about the importance of “The Great British High Street”.
He said: “We have the best high streets in the world. Unless we start shopping in our high streets, we will not have a high street for much longer.
“Our high street is our signature stamp. We don’t want to wake up one day and see a whole row of shutters down.”
It’s a timely message, one which is essential for the people of smaller towns who love their high street shopping experiences – use it, or lose it.
And with that, Wan bids farewell to his throngs of female fans. Next week, he’ll be off to the other side of the country to remind more women just how great they are.”
***Panel***CLAIRE Buck sadly lost her father to cancer several years ago.
As of 2015, she was facing a potentially similar situation.
The 47-year-old from Romford was severely overweight, and her doctors told her she was showing similar symptoms to her father before he became ill. Drastic change was needed.
Cut to two-and-a-half years later, Ms Buck has lost 21 stone, and has been selected by Gok Wan to have a free makeover by a specialist team.
Ms Buck was nominated for the surprise makeover at Gok’s “One Size Fits All” event in Cold Norton on Sunday, the Essex gig of the show’s UK tour.
Wan asked the 300-strong room for people to nominate their friends for the makeover. Several stories were shared about fantastic mothers and caring partners, but when Ms Buck’s story was told aloud to the room, Wan and every single guest were in visible and audible awe.
The decision was clear, and Ms Buck was whisked off back stage.
Whilst she’s being pampered up, Ms Buck says the decision to shed so much weight came down purely to health reasons.
She said: “I was a very active big girl, I was always going out and about, looking after my son, going clubbing, but the doctors advised me that I was showing signs of decline.
“From then on, I had no sugar, no fat and no alcohol, which was the hardest thing to lose.
“It has without doubt completely changed everything about me. Before losing the weight I existed, but now I have a whole new life to enjoy.”
Ms Buck was revealed to the crowd at the end of the show, joining Wan on stage looking stunning in a dark blue dress, all of which was provided by The Prom Shop in Colchester.
Despite loving – and very clearly deserving – the recognition, Ms Buck said she has always enjoyed watching those around her grow, taking pride in those closest to her.
She said: “I originally wanted to nominate my friend, but the microphone was passed to her and she nominated me, which was so surprising, but with Gok it was a thrill, that man is so fantastic.
“I enjoy watching confidence grow in other people, that’s just who I am.
“Though everyone needs this treatment every so often, it should be included on the NHS.”