Ashley Cain nominated for Pride of Britain after charitable work in honour of daughter Azaylia

ITV News Correspondent Jane Hesketh has been speaking with Pride of Britain nominee Ashley Cain.

Ex-Coventry City footballer Ashley Cain has set up a foundation in his daughter's name Azaylia, who died from leukaemia at the age of eight months.

Following her death in April 2021, he and his former partner set up the Azaylia Foundation to raise money for research, and treatments for childhood cancers, and to help other families through the trauma of diagnosis.

The former professional player's daughter died from acute myeloid leukaemia, an aggressive childhood cancer which affects white blood cells after she was diagnosed at Birmingham Children's Hospital a few weeks after her birth.

Ashley Cain lost his 8-month-old daughter to leukaemia in April 2021

Originally from Nuneaton, Mr Cain set up the foundation not only to help other families whose loved ones are battling cancer but to help pay for specialist treatments for those not available on the NHS.

Mr Cain has put himself through some gruelling challenges to raise awareness of childhood cancer.

The Azaylia Foundation is just over a year old and has given out over half a million pounds to fund research and treatments for childhood cancers.

Speaking to ITV News Central Cain said: "Even though we want to improve treatments and early diagnosis for childhood cancer we still want to give hope to children and parents who can't get treatment because it is not on the NHS."

"We knew that the community supported us, they gave us hope, and even if we got that extra week or month if we can provide that for a family that is what we will do."

Azaylia's dad channelled his grief into challenges which physically pushed him to the limit.

He cycled between the 3 peaks in England, Scotland and Wales and climbed them all.

Mr Cain also completed 5 marathons in 5 days and has just completed a 1700-mile cycle race through Europe.

He said the challenges "are painful but I find power and strength in my pain, there is purpose in my pain." 

"I use it to push me to feats of strength, so we ran 100 miles and 5 marathons in 5 days across the UK. I want to spread awareness everywhere."

Ashley Cain challenges himself to raise money for the Azaylia Foundation

Mr Cain has used his profile as a former professional footballer and reality TV star to raise awareness about childhood cancers and wants to do all he can in his daughter's name.

He said: "All I care about is making my daughter proud, I care about taking her around the world and in my love for my daughter we are helping so many people, I have this love for my little girl I can't put into words, even though she is not here I still want to be the best daddy and I am using daddy power."

Max Pachl, a cancer surgeon at Birmingham Women's and Children's, said: "Ashley has been amazing and we are so proud the foundation has donated 20 thousand pounds for equipment."

"It made a difference to a lot of our children and will continue to do so."

This month is childhood cancer awareness month and Ashley is planning more events to support the Azaylia Foundation.