On Christmas Day morning, Ben Howard, from Welshpool, received a phone call from his sister, and it wasn’t to wish him a ‘Merry Christmas’.

“Christmas Day was over for us then. It didn’t happen,” he said.

Ben’s niece, Aria, was diagnosed with stage four neuroblastoma: a cancer of the nervous system which has spread to other parts of the body.

She lives in Australia with her mum, Stef, from Welshpool, and her dad, Josh. When Ben got the call from his sister, it was Christmas Day morning.

“It was heart-wrenching. It came completely out of the blue. We weren’t expecting it in our worst nightmares,” he said. “That was our Christmas Day.”

But there wasn’t time for it to properly sink in. Ben’s first priority was to get his parents to Australia on the first available flight out.

“My wife spent Christmas morning ringing around all the airlines and we were lucky to get the flight that we did. There were only three seats left.”

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With Aria’s cancer being stage four, there was no waiting when it came down to treating it; there couldn’t be. As soon as she was diagnosed, on Christmas Day, she started chemotherapy. She’ll be on it for 12 months, and will have radiotherapy straight after.

But if any two-year-old girl can cope with it, it’s Aria.

Ben said: “She is, out of all of our family, the most feisty. She’s one defiant little girl. Anybody that knows my family and the females in it know how strong they are, and this little girl is the strongest of the lot.”

An online fundraiser has been set up to support Stef and Josh though Aria’s cancer treatment. At the time of going to print, an incredible $25,000 Australian dollars has been raised; the equivalent of over £13,000.

But with Aria, Stef and Josh in Australia, Ben didn’t want to feel like he couldn’t help from here in the UK.

“I needed to do something. It’s going to be a long road. I’m just trying to do as much as I can to support the family,” Ben said.

On March 1, Ben will be shaving off his beard, and all the hair on his body (yes, everywhere), to raise money to support his niece, little sister and brother-in-law. And considering how hairy Ben is, it will be quite the event for anyone who knows him.

He said: “I’m quite a hairy bloke. I’ve grown my beard out for around seven years. My wife has never even seen me clean shaven.”

To donate to Ben’s shave, click here, and to get the overall fundraiser, click here.

Other people across Welshpool have been organising events for Aria and her family too.

A Bingo fundraiser for Aria’ will take place on Friday, January 31, at Welshpool Town Hall. Doors open at 6pm, with eyes down for the first game at 7pm.

Refreshments will be available during the half-time break.

The organisers are asking for prize donations for the bingo or raffle.

Clothes sale - fundraiser for Aria’ will take place on Saturday, February 15, at Welshpool Town Bowling Club.

At the sale, there will be raffles with some excellent prizes and the chance to buy some preloved children’s and adults’ clothes. The bar will also be open.

Donations of clothes for the evening and prizes for the raffle can be dropped off at The Talbot, Welshpool.