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DIARY: Beyond Radio presenter fighting cancer continues his '60 Before 60' challenge

Phil McGrath

Beyond Radio presenter Phil McGrath is continuing his mission to complete 60 different challenges before his 60th birthday and here is his diary.

Phil McGrath has launched his '60 Before 60 Challenge' aiming to do all the things he's always wanted to, but never got round to before.

Phil, who presents The Quick Draw Radio Show on Monday nights on Beyond Radio, turns 60 in April 2025. 

He also works for Citizens' Advice in Lancaster, helping families who have been affected by cancer to claim benefits they are entitled to.

Phil was recently diagnosed with non-curative lung cancer, after twice beating cancer before.

He has begun a course of chemotherapy and immunotherapy treatment, and says that beating cancer again has been added to his list of challenges.

So far during his challenge, he has taken a selfie with a Harlem Globetrotter basketball player, eaten a Kurdish meal, which he'd never done before, ran the Tolkien Trail (below), experienced his first ever 70s Weekender at Butlin's, taken on a game of 'electric shock' laser tag in Morecambe and completed the Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge.

Read Phil's Diary Week 1 to 6 HERE:

INTERVIEW: Beyond Radio presenter fighting cancer for third time takes on '60 before 60' challenge - Beyond Radio

The story continues...

Week 7

Had to miss a couple of runs and walks this week due to a bruised sole and being very tired so focus was on work – back to chemotherapy and immunotherapy on Friday which went very well.

10/60 Comedian Chris McCausland at Lancaster Grand on Saturday saw me tick off the 10th item on the list. A really funny show which was ably supported by Jon Long who arrived on stage with his guitar and a tale of how he was influenced heavily by Victoria Wood.

Chris told a yarn about his “useless” computer degree and his various medical procedures with some hilarious consequences due to his blindness. A great night which was well needed after the medical challenges of the week – I do hate being 'grounded!'

Week 8

11/60 Crazy Golf at the Secret Garden at Barton Grange – a great night out with workmates and a good laugh too – a hole in one for yours truly too which can’t be bad (although the golf technique certainly was!!). I have to say, the food was absolutely scrumptious, lamb kebab was amazing! All in all a fun way to celebrate a Wednesday evening and tick off another box on the list!

Managed to get back to Park Run on Saturday playing in the mud – not particularly quick but I was there!! I even managed a Sunday run with the Trailblazers up Hutton Roof which was a lovely run out with mates and a beautiful part of our County.

Week 9

12/60  A trip with my wife Di and daughter Yzzy to see the musical 'I Should Be So Lucky' in Liverpool. The show was an overdose of glitz and colour topped off with a hologram of Kylie and the music of Stock, Aitken and Waterman – think Mamma Mia but  set in Turkey and a lot camper and you’ll not be far wrong – well staged, great effects and fun – lots of opportunity to sing along and some great laughs, particularly from Scott Paige as Michael and Giovanni Spano as Ash, Ash’s version of You Spin Me Round (Like a Record) had me in stitches!

13/60 Poppies Chip Shop, Soho – formerly 2i’s coffee house, the birthplace of British Rock and Roll, for Rock and Chips – had to be on the list and a great destination for Quick Draw to tick off. The chip shop was set up to celebrate its past, decorated to look like a 1950s coffee bar with pictures of the rock and roll heroes of the day. Staff a little over attentive, pricey for fish and chips but great food which was enjoyed by us both.

14/60 Opening Night with Sheridan Smith – the second musical of the week but, when in London...One of Di’s favourites Sheridan Smith starred in Opening Night, a show that neither of us had any knowledge. We arrived to take our seats and were advised that we’d been 'upgraded' – bonus!! Great seats for a really good show. The story was a show within a show with Sheridan Smith brilliantly playing a troubled actress. Bad reviews but we loved it!

15/60 Elvis’ Graceland Exhibition – another one that had to be done by Quick Draw. A really good exhibition which showed many of Elvis’ outfits and belongings, the MG from Speedway and Elvis’ Ferrari and trike were great to see too. The exhibition finished with a great film of Elvis singing live through the years – loverly jubblee!

16/60 Volunteering at the London Marathon – a really long day but well worth the time and effort. Our volunteering began with recycling water bottles and foil blankets and finished, after a lunch break, with helping distribute medals. It was brilliant being able to support those finishers, very emotional for many, supporting them to their baggage collection points, water and foil blankets. A great day, soaking up the atmosphere and enjoying the euphoria of those at the finish line.

Week 10

A bit of a write off. Week 10 was spent, largely, recovering from and receiving more chemotherapy. It looks like the exertions of week 9 have caught up with me and more treatment at the end of the week put a stop to the planned activities this week. Even had to look at the logistics of managing the Isle of Wight Ultra and, after discussions with the consultant, have reluctantly had to postpone until 2025. Apparently the chemotherapy has damaged my testosterone levels and that will need sorting – completely wiped me out!

Week 11

Starting to get myself back to normal and, although I’m not doing the Ultra this year, we’ve decided to take the leave to help with the recovery. So, Friday my leave began and we decided to take in some of the more local things on the list. Preston was in our sights and a visit to 17/60 Ladyewell was first up. A really chilled, spiritual and relaxing place to catch up with myself. Lit some candles for family and friends and wandered around the shrine taking in some of the prayer and faith. The relicary was really interesting and something that certainly needs visiting, whether or not you’re into that kind of thing! The brutality of the persecution of the Lancashire Martyrs was a stark reminder of how much the Church has suffered, both Catholic and Protestant. I realised at that point how little was known in our current society of the rich and challenging history of faith in the UK.

There was a feeling that the whole site needed some TLC, probably a reflection on the Church really. Got me musing about how I could help support, something for the brain to mull over and see what, if anything, I could support.

Then onto Preston centre for a selfie at the 18/60 Wallace and Gromit statue with Di – loved the statue outside the Indoor Market (and loved the South American Cafe opposite) – the fact that the newspaper that Gromit was reading had Feathers McGraw on the front page just added to the fun!!

Then a complete change of mood, on to the 19/60 Martyr’s Memorial commemorating the four striking workers shot down in 1842. The shock of the young ages – two in their teens, two in their 20s was something I wasn’t expecting!

The week ended with a visit to 20/60 the Wray Scarecrow Festival and a morning wandering through the streets of Wray taking in the wonderful creations of the community, raising money for local charities and just milling around the village. Sadly I missed the 10k run last Saturday and the Trailblazers Wray run this Sunday, but at least I got to see the scarecrows and enjoy the atmosphere.


Phil wants you, the Beyond Radio listeners, to suggest challenges for him to do.

Email us at studio@beyondradio.co.uk with your suggestions.

We will be following Phil on his '60 Before 60' quest on Beyond Radio and at our social media pages.

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