Ashley Cain and his partner Safiyya in tears during Azaylia's funeral

Ashley Cain and his partner Safiyya break down in tears during baby daughter Azaylia’s Lion King themed funeral procession as crowds line the streets to pay tribute following her death from leukaemia

  • Azaylia lost her battle with acute myeloid leukaemia in April, when she was just eight months old 
  • She was diagnosed with the rare disease when she was two months old and her parents chronicled her battle on social media, gaining worldwide recognition and a huge fundraising drive 
  • Ex On The Beach star Ashley, 30, and Safiyya, 35, welcomed supporters to line the streets of Nuneaton on Friday as a horse-drawn carriage made its way to the private service 
  • The couple named her Lion King-themed funeral ‘Azaylia Day’ with references to her nickname ‘Likkle Lion’ 

Ashley Cain and his partner Safiyya Vorajee broke down in tears during their baby daughter Azaylia’s funeral procession on Friday morning, after she tragically died last month following a brave battle with cute myeloid leukaemia. 

Crowds lined the streets in Nuneaton’s town centre as the eight-month-old was given a beautiful send off in a white horse-drawn carriage, ahead of her private service. 

The couple, who had documented their daughter’s fight against leukaemia on social media, named her funeral ‘Azaylia Day’, and previously asked for her supporters to come outside to pay their respects to their little girl. 


Always in our hearts: Ashley Cain and his partner Safiyya Vorajee broke down in tears during their baby daughter Azaylia’s funeral procession on Friday morning, after she died last month following a brave battle with cute myeloid leukaemia

‘Likkle Lion’: Azaylia battled acute myeloid leukaemia for the majority of her life and was diagnosed just two months after she was born (pictured in February)

A grieving Ashley, 30, wiped away tears as he became overwhelmed with the emotion when the cortège began, with the crowd showing their love by clapping and cheering for Azaylia during the 15-minute journey. 

In a symbolic reference to Azaylia’s nickname ‘Likkle Lion’ as well as myeloid leukaemia being represented by the colour orange, four white horses wore bright orange feathers and were draped in covers bearing her name.   

Ashley and his male friends and family wore tangerine coloured ties and pocket squares, while Safiyya, 33, had gold letters which spelled Azaylia’s name in her hair. 

Heartbreaking: A floral tribute of her name and Lion King toys were displayed in a hearse which followed the horse-drawn carriage

Princess of our hearts: Crowds lined the streets as the eight-month-old was given a beautiful send off in a white horse-drawn carriage 

Supportive: The couple were overwhelmed with the emotion as the cortège began, with the crowd showing their love by clapping and cheering for Azaylia during the 15-minute journey


Devoted father: A grieving Ashley wiped away tears and was comforted by a girl who reached out to give the television personality a hug



Family: Safiyya held a ‘Likkle Lion’ balloon as the family and the couple’s friends gathered ahead of the procession. The couple have been supported by their family following their devastating loss

You’ll never walk alone: Safiyya put on a brave face as she greeted the hundreds of people who had turned up in Azaylia’s honour 

Farewell: Flowers surrounded her coffin which was personalised with her initials ADC for Azaylia Diamond Cain 

Flowers surrounded her coffin, while a floral tribute of her name and Lion King toys were displayed in a hearse which followed the horse-drawn carriage.

Ahead of the funeral, Safiyya shared a photo of her nails which were patterned with angel wings, the Lion King cubs and Azaylia. 

As she listened to Mariah Carey’s When You Believe, she wrote: ‘My tribute nails to look at you all day. My heart is aching so hard. I’m so nervous for today but I promise I will do you proud baby.’


Tribute nails: Ahead of the funeral, Safiyya shared a photo of her nails which were patterned with angel wings, the Lion King cubs and Azaylia

Safiyya added: ‘My guardian angel. My daughter Azaylia Diamond Cain. Mummy holds you in my heart forever.’ 

Earlier this week, Safiyya said she was touched when she saw residents had decorated the streets with orange ribbon after she released details of the funeral procession. 

Azaylia was diagnosed with the rare and aggressive cancer when she was just two-months-old, after being turned away by doctors three times. 

She spent the majority of her life in hospital, undergoing four rounds of chemotherapy and stem cell treatment.  

A timeline of Azaylia’s six-month leukaemia battle

October 2020: Ashley emotionally revealed his daughter had been diagnosed with a ‘rare and aggressive’ form of leukaemia, which he described as an ‘uphill battle’. 

Heartbreaking: Ashley emotionally revealed his daughter had been diagnosed with a ‘rare and aggressive’ form of leukaemia in October

Azaylia was turned away by doctors three times and prescribed laxatives and a nasal spray when her breathing was impeded, shortly before her diagnosis.

By the end of the month, the brave child faced her second surgery and 16th chemotherapy-related treatment in less than two weeks.

November 2020: Azaylia’s hair started to fall out just weeks after she was diagnosed.

Doctors informed Ashley and his family that the tot needed a bone marrow transplant and blood donation.

Due to her Caribbean, Burmese, Indian and English background, the footballer said it was very difficult to find a match for a transplant. 

Azaylia was brought home for a few days before her second round of chemotherapy.

December 2020: 80,000 people became stem cell donors 48 hours after Ashley appealed for the public’s help.

So sad: Azaylia’s hair started to fall out just weeks after she was diagnosed in November

January 2021: The TV star confirmed a stem cell donor had been found for his baby daughter Azaylia. 

She received her stem cell transplant but her cancer sadly returned following a third round of chemotherapy. 

February 2021: Azaylia responded well to her stem cell treatment and doctors were impressed with ‘how strong she was’. 

She underwent further surgery to discover whether her leukaemia had gone. Later in the month, doctors revealed her cancer had returned. 

March 2021: They were told there were ‘very few options’ to help the baby’s condition before she had another bone marrow test. She relapsed by the end of the month and underwent her fourth round of chemotherapy.

Ashley surpassed his target goal of £1million after he set up a GoFundMe to pay for life-saving treatment for his daughter Azaylia.

Heartbreaking: Healthcare professionals revealed Azaylia only had a few days to live as they discovered tumours all over her body

The former Ex On The Beach star took to social media to ask fans for help in donating, explaining the treatment his daughter needed is available in Singapore.

Ashley described the treatment, CAR-T therapy, as ‘the only option to save Azaylia’s life’ and said he and partner Safiyya may have to fly out in a matter of weeks, adding it will take a minimum of one year.

Celebrities such as former TOWIE star Kate Ferdinand, Love Island’s Molly-Mae Hague and PrettyLittleThing founder Umar Kamani all donated.

Despite efforts from around the world, pharmaceutical companies could not release the life-saving drugs needed to beat his daughter Azaylia’s battle. 

April 2020: Healthcare professionals revealed Azaylia only had a few days to live as they discovered tumours in her stomach, her spleen, her liver and her kidneys, in addition to tumours in her brain.

Her parents bathed her in the hospital for a final time before they returned home.

They marked her turning eight months old by having moulds made of her feet, and Azaylia was met with support from the London Underground and Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson.

She received life-prolonging transfusion after her condition caused profuse bleeding and public figures joined the nationwide clap held in her honour.

Azaylia was nominated for a Pride of Britain award and had a plane draw a heart in the sky for her.

The tot was put on oxygen to aid her sleep, and struggled to open her eyes due to swelling.

Scam artists set up fake Facebook pages in her name, with Ashley admitting: ‘We feel really sad it has come to this’.

Azaylia returned to hospital for another platelet transfusion a few days before she died.

The influencer’s ‘fragile’ daughter stopped breathing and suffered seizures before Ashley confirmed her death.

 

In January, she received her stem cell transplant but her cancer sadly returned following a third round of chemotherapy. 

She underwent further surgery to discover whether her leukaemia had gone, but in February, healthcare professionals revealed her cancer had returned.

Ashley took to social media to ask fans for help in donating, explaining the treatment his daughter needed is available in Singapore. 



Their little girl: Safiyya wore Azaylia’s name in her hair in a touching tribute, while Ashley looked smart in a three-piece suit 

Despite efforts from around the world, pharmaceutical companies could not release the life-saving drugs needed to beat his daughter Azaylia’s battle.  

In April, the couple were told Azaylia only had a few days to live as they discovered tumours in her stomach, her spleen, her liver and her kidneys, in addition to tumours in her brain, and she tragically died later that month. 

During her last days, she received life-prolonging transfusion after her condition caused profuse bleeding and public figures joined the nationwide clap held in her honour. 

The tot was put on oxygen to aid her sleep, and struggled to open her eyes due to swelling. 


Devastated: Ashley took a moment to gather himself before starting the procession walk with his partner by his side 

Downpour: Rain poured down as the family walked behind the horse-drawn carriage 

Azaylia was honoured with a Pride Of Britain award following her brave battle with leukaemia.  

The couple announced last week their daughter’s day of rest would be on Friday and encouraged people to pay tribute to her on ‘Azaylia Day’ 

They wrote: ‘Azaylia’s Day. We would like to thank everyone for their prayers, words of sympathy & patience over the last few weeks, while we come to terms with the loss of Azaylia.  

‘We have been incredibly moved by the support we have received far and wide and all the beautiful gesture of kindness will live in hearts forever.


For Azaylia: In a symbolic reference to Azaylia’s nickname ‘Likkle Lion’, four white horses wore orange feathers and covers in a touching tribute to her courageous battle

Clapping for Azaylia: The couple had encouraged well wishers to line the streets of Nuneaton for Azaylia’s cortège after sharing the planned route for the 15 minute journey


Crying: Safiyya fought back tears as the crowd clapped and cheered as they went past 

Brave: A picture of a lion could be seen surrounded by white flowers, a symbolic tribute to Azaylia’s courageous battle

Poignant scene: Residents cried as they watched Azaylia’s funeral procession take place, with many having created signs or put up balloons in her honour

Angel: One woman held up a sign which said: ‘Rest in perfect paradise’, with quotes from the Jungle Book lyrics and her catchphrase ‘let’s go champ’ 

‘We have been in correspondence with Warwickshire Police, to understand how we can give people who would like to pay their respects, the chance to do so.

‘Due to current restrictions the family will be attending a private service of celebration of Azaylia’s life, but prior to the Azaylia’s service we will be giving Azaylia her last journey through Nuneaton town. 

‘We would be touched and honoured to see as many of those that wish, pay their respects to Azaylia by lining the streets somewhere along the route the cortége will proceed through.

Sleep tight, little one: Of her legacy, Ashley said, ‘ The world lit up. The world talked about childhood cancer. The world showed its heart. And YOU helped to make all of that happen’

Azaylia Day: ‘We would be touched and honoured to see as many of those that wish, pay their respects to Azaylia by lining the streets somewhere along the route the cortége will proceed through,’ the couple previously said 

In memory: They said: ‘As truly difficult as the day will be, we are going to give it our all to keep Azaylia’s day an uplifting day of remembrance for her life and encourage anyone attending to show their love by clapping and making joyous noise’

‘We respectfully ask all attending Azaylia’s final journey to adhere to the current Covid legislation, to maintain social distancing and to keep within your family bubbles, this will ensure everyone is safe and following the rules that are set out. 

‘As truly difficult as the day will be, we are going to give it our all to keep Azaylia’s day an uplifting day of remembrance for her life and encourage anyone attending to show their love by clapping and making joyous noise of celebration as the cortege goes by!

‘We would love to make her final journey a special one as she watches from heaven. LETS GO CHAMP!’   

The former footballer said making decisions about Azaylia’s funeral was enough to ‘bring me to my knees’.  

In a message shared on his stories, he penned: ‘I always dreaded the first I’d have to plan a funeral. But I never ever thought it would be my child’s funeral. 

Amazing: Ashley’s GoFundMe fundraiser for his eight-month-old’s treatment hit nearly £1.6 million. The money will now be used to help other children through a new charity set up in Azaylia’s name

Ashley Cain’s fundraiser for daughter Azaylia’s leukaemia treatment – who donated?

PrettyLittleThing founder Umar Kamani – £20,000

InTheStyle’s Adam Frisby – £10,000

Chet Johnson (Faded Clothing) – £10,000

Manchester United’s Luke Shaw –  £5,000

Mrs Hinch – £3,000 

Kate and Rio Ferdinand – £1,000

Love Island star Molly-Mae Hague – £1,000 

Love Island star Maura Higgins –£1,000 

Fulham midfielder Harrison Reed – £1,000 

Watford forward Andre Gray – £1,000

Nottingham Forest defender Cyrus Christie – £1,000 

West Bromwich Albion’s Robert Snodgrass – £1,000

Newcastle midfielder Isaac Hayden – £1,000

Ex On The Beach star Jemma Lucy – £1,000

JLS star Marvin Humes – £500 

‘Nothing could ever have prepared me for this. Some days it breaks me and I can’t even bare to do it.  

‘I always thought I was tough, but making decisions on how I’m going to bury my baby is enough to bring me to my knees every single time.’

He concluded: ‘It’s hard to make sense of anything right now, especially why did it have to happen this way!’  

The announcement comes after Ashley revealed the £1.6 million raised for Azaylia’s cancer treatment will now be used for her funeral and to set up a children’s charity. 


Harrowing: Ashley and Safiyya announced the heartbreaking death of their little girl on April 25 after a brave cancer battle

 

‘You are my angel, my heartbeat, my soul’: Azaylia’s parents announced their daughter’s death on Instagram as they shared heartbreaking tributes to their little girl 

The couple had originally set up a GoFund Me page to raise momey for CAR-T therapy treatment in Singapore after they were left with ‘very little options’.  

Celebrities such as former TOWIE star Kate Ferdinand, Love Island’s Molly-Mae Hague and PrettyLittleThing founder Umar Kamani all donated.

Despite efforts from around the world, pharmaceutical companies could not release the life-saving drugs needed to beat his daughter Azaylia’s battle, as her cancer was so rare and aggressive. 

He emotionally went on: ‘The amount of money needed for Azaylia’s potential treatment in Singapore was raised in just 24 hours. 

‘That money can sadly no longer be used to help Azaylia but we want to make sure it is used positively – and in Azaylia’s name. 

‘After days of emotional yet careful consideration we have decided that, firstly, we would like to use some to give Azaylia a magical and deserving send off – something that we believe you would all want to be a part of. 

‘Secondly, we will use the remaining money to help other children through a new charity we are setting up in Azaylia’s name.

‘She has guided us throughout this process and it only feels right that we continue to use the platform we built together to help those in similar situations.’ 

For help and support caring for children with life-limiting and life-threatening conditions, please contact Together for Short Lives on 0808 8088 100 or visit www.togetherforshortlives.org.uk 

Strong: The couple remained utterly devoted to their daughter as they documented her battle with cancer on social media 

What are the symptoms of leukaemia in children?

Fatigue and pale skin – this is because leukaemia can cause anaemia which makes a child feel weak, tired and light-headed.

Infections and fever – children with leukaemia lack normal white blood cells which would normally help fight infection.

Rash – children may have small, dark spots that look like common rashes if the leukemia cells spread to the skin   

Easy bruising or bleeding – this includes frequent nosebleeds, bleeding gums and bleeding a lot from small cuts.

Bone or joint pain – this is caused by a build up of leukaemia cells near the surface of the bone or inside the joint.

Swelling of the abdomen – leukaemia cells may collect in the liver and spleen causing them to enlarge.

Loss of appetite and weight loss – if the spleen and liver swell, they can press against the stomach causing loss of appetite.

Swollen lymph nodes – some leukaemias spread to the lymph nodes causing them to swell.

Source: American Cancer Society 

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