A GROUP of Buddhists have launched an appeal to raise £500,000 for a retreat centre.

Namgyal Dorje, from Longcroft Road, Caldicot, says they are hoping to find a farm they can convert and have looked at properties in Monmouthshire.

"We're looking for somewhere rural and accessible," said Namgyal, 33, who works at Corus.

There are around 30 people across South Wales belonging to this Tibetan tradition which allows practitioners to have families.

They formed the charity Sang-ngak-cho-dzong and have already raised £46,000 towards the Drala Jong Retreat Centre appeal.

Ideally they want a farm, set in a few acres of land, with outbuildings which they can convert.

Art and crafts play an important part in the tradition and the centre would offer a variety of workshops, including painting, pottery, ceramics, horse riding and martial arts.

"The majority of events will be open to the public," said Namgyal, who lives with wife Shezer Khandro.

He says the non-monastic centre would be the first of its kind outside the Himalayas.

The group are currently searching for a patron and stress that donations large or small are welcome.

They have already received letters offering best wishes from Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwell as well as entrepeneur Richard Branson.

To find out more or to make a donation visit www.arobuddhism.org