Ashley Cain's heartbreak - 'I'm the proudest daddy, but I should be holding both my children in my arms'

Ashley Cain has opened up about his experience of Father’s Day, three years after his daughter Azaylia tragically passed away after being diagnosed with leukaemia.

In an exclusive and emotional interview, former footballer Ashley, 33, revealed that following his devastating loss occasions such as Father’s Day have become “extremely difficult” for him and they “don't feel that celebratory” after he laid his eight month old daughter to rest.

“Day to day life is difficult enough as it is, but you have to find ways to suck it up, get by and cope. However, occasions are extremely difficult, as days that you would usually celebrate don't feel that celebratory to me anymore,” he told OK!.

Ashley Cain
Ashley Cain has revealed that occasions can be "extremely difficult" after the passing of his daughter -Credit:Ken McKay/ITV/REX/Shutterstock

“That being said, being a father is by far my greatest achievement and always will be. So on Father's Day, I will hold both pain and love in my heart, with tears in my eyes and a smile on my face as I stand being the proudest daddy to my daughter in heaven and father to my son on earth.”

Besides being a dad to Azaylia, Ashley is also a father to son Aliyas, who he welcomed in January this year. As a result, Father’s Day brings about mixed emotions – something the TV personality has revealed that he is “learning to navigate” as time goes on.

“It's so difficult not being able to hold my daughter on Father's Day, but it's also so beautiful now to be able to hold my son. Aliyas has brought so much love back to my life, allowing that part of my heart that was closed off for so long to open up and flourish again,” he said.

“He is the most beautiful boy with the most beautiful soul and a true blessing to my life. So even though this day will bring a lot of pain, it will bring a lot of joy too which I am still learning to navigate, but trying to embrace in all its entirety.”

Ashley Cain and daughter Azaylia
Ashley says that he is the "proudest daddy" to Azaylia -Credit:Ashley Cain Instagram

Three years on from Azaylia’s passing, doting dad Ashley has dedicated himself to fighting childhood cancer to stop families facing the grief that he has endured. In fact the former footballer is currently embarking on ULTRAMAN which will see him cross Britain three times from top to bottom – once running, once cycling, and once kayaking – to raise funds for The Azaylia Foundation’s Childhood Cancer PhD Scholarship Programme.

Having kick started the challenge on Wednesday, 24th April, the anniversary of Azaylia’s passing, Ashley has already raised a whopping £113,555 as he enters the third and final leg of the challenge.

“Azaylia is my hero and my inspiration to be a better man, a better father and a better human being every single day that I am alive. Being by her side allowed me to see what true strength is, what real bravery looks like and that through your darkest days facing your biggest battles, you can fight, you can smile and make the lives of others around you better,” he explained.

Ashley Cain
Ashley has raised £113,555 so far as part of his Ultraman challenger -Credit:@miss_safiyya_/Instagram

“On Father's Day I will be continuing to take Azaylia on a journey, on an incredibly powerful journey, as she watches over me from heaven, battling the seas of the west coast of Great Britain on my 3rd and final leg of ULTRAMAN, as part of my worlds first and world record attempt – in her honour and for children who fighting cancer.”

While the challenge may be mentally and physically demanding, it’s clear that Ashley’s devotion to being a dad will help him through the toughest of moments. As he sets his sights on finishing the 2,780 mile journey, the Ex On The Beach star will be teaching son Aliyas the lessons that his daughter Azaylia taught him.

Ashley Cain with Azaylia
Doting dad Ashley has called Azaylia his "hero" -Credit:Ashley Cain Instagram

“I should be holding both of my children in my arms and it breaks my heart everyday that I can't. So now I’m trying to be the best daddy I can to my daughter in heaven, while trying to be the best father to my son on earth. I don't want to just tell my son to be great, I want to show him what great looks like. I don't want to tell him he needs to be brave, I want to show him what bravery is. I don't want to tell him to keep his word, I want to show him that I always keep mine,” he said.

“The reason I want to do that is because my daughter didn't need to say a single word to me to teach me all the most valuable lessons that I now hold in my life. She didn't need to speak a word to show me how to be strong when I felt weak or how to be brave when I felt scared.

"And the most valuable thing she taught me is that through your pain, through your darkness and through your battles you can put a smile on your face and make the lives of the people around you so much better. And if I can honour my hero Azaylia, I hope in the process I can be Aliyas's too.”

Ashley Cain with his baby son Aliyas
Ashley Cain with his baby son Aliyas, who he welcomed in January -Credit:Instagram

Besides honouring Azaylia, Ashley is determined to continue his daughter’s legacy in a bid to campaign for key change in childhood cancer. With the challenge contributing to The Azaylia Foundation’s Childhood Cancer PhD Scholarship Programme, the foundation hopes to fund 20 PhDs, in five years.

“By doing so, I hope to raise a lot of awareness and funds to fight childhood cancer and create a brighter future for all children and their families who have to face the disease that took my daughter away from me,” Ashley added.

“I've sacrificed days, weeks, months, years, blood, sweat, tears and my own finances to this cause over the last three years because it breaks my heart that children are losing their lives and parents are losing their children as I know first hand the true devastation it causes.

"So for that, I won't stop when I'm tired, I won't stop when my heart aches, I won't stop when I'm in physical or mental pain. I'll stop when I'm done and hopefully inspire a lot of people along the way.”

To donate to Ashley’s GoFundMe page, visit