Page last updated at 06:53 GMT, Friday, 11 December 2009

Welsh mansion appeal for armed forces retreat


A campaign has been launched to buy and convert Gelli Aur mansion into a rehabilitation home

An appeal is being launched to buy a mansion and turn it into a convalescent home for injured soldiers.

Organisers need to find more than £2m to buy Gelli Aur in Carmarthenshire.

They plan to turn it into a retreat for members of the armed forces and their families offering tranquil surroundings in which they can recover.

It is being run by a former Royal Regiment of Wales combat medic, Kevin Richards, who says it is desperately needed.

There are no such facilities in Wales at present and the appeal has support from the Union of Welsh Independent Churches.

Mr Richards said it would help to heal those who had been scarred both physically and mentally in conflict.

Rev Guto Prys ap Gwynfor
We think Gelli Aur is in an excellent position because it's close to the main hospitals in Carmarthen and Swansea
The Reverend Guto Prys ap Gwynfor

He said at present members of the armed forces from Wales currently received treatment in England, placing a great strain on their families who had to travel long distances to be with them.

"Military hospitals are usually very bland and sterile," he added.

"This is going to be a nice environment set within 100 acres where the views are outstanding.

"We want this so the care will be there for the veterans of today, tomorrow and the future."

He said it was a long-term project with the first phase of fundraising geared towards buying and restoring the main mansion house which is unoccupied at the moment.

Mr Richards said the charity - The Golden Grove Mansion Appeal - had already received backing from a number of armed forces charities.

It will look for other grants along with its own fundraising.

'Christian duty'

The privately owned mansion in the the grounds of Gelli Aur Country Park near Llandeilo has been on the marked for several years.

The present mansion house dates back to the 1830s and was used as an American military hospital during World War II.

The idea was originally raised by the Union of Welsh Independent Churches, whose president, the Reverend Rev Guto Prys ap Gwynfor, said: "Morally as a pacifist I oppose all war but it's our Christian duty to help those injured in warfare.

"We need to help them be as close to home as possible so that their families no longer have to travel long distances to see them.

"We think Gelli Aur is in an excellent position because it's close to the main hospitals in Carmarthen and Swansea."

Friday's launch is also being attended by combat veterans, Assembly Members and county councillors.

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