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

Phil McGrath

A Beyond Radio presenter who is fighting cancer for the third time is taking on 60 different challenges before his 60th birthday to fulfil his bucket list and raise money for charity.

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 the disease. 

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

LISTEN to Phil talking about his '60 Before 60' challenge 

"When I was in my early 20s I had a cancer diagnosis and at one point I was given about four weeks to live, and was told I would never walk again," he said.

"About three years ago during the Covid lockdown I was diagnosed with lung cancer. I got over that, got through it and beat it for the second time.

"Then as I'm coming up to 60, I came up with this daft idea that I wanted to do 60 challenges, 60 things that I've always wanted to do, like a bucket list of things that I've never got round to. So I started making a list of the 60 things that I really wanted to do, and decided to start 60 weeks before I was 60.

"Just before I started, that dreaded call came from the doctor again, to say that I had non-curative lung cancer.

"So added to the list of 60, was beating cancer for the third time."

On February 20 this year, exactly 60 weeks before his 60th, Phil began his quest by challenging himself to get a selfie with a Harlem Globetrotter basketball player.

"When I grew up one of the biggest things on telly was the Harlem Globetrotters," he said.

"I noticed they were playing in Manchester exactly 60 weeks before my 60th so I thought that would be a great start.

"What a fantastic night it was. I got a selfie with one of the tallest players and he was great."

Some of the challenges are places Phil wanted to visit, or shows he wanted to see.

He completed his second challenge to eat a Kurdish meal, which he'd never done before, and the third - to see Matthew Bourne’s ballet Edward Scissorhands at Liverpool Empire.

There are also some bigger physical challenges involved.

His fourth challenge saw him run the Tolkien Trail (below) with its glorious views of Pendle Hill.

Challenge 5 was to see one of his favourite comedians, Reginald D Hunter, at the Lancaster Grand.

This was followed by Challenge 6, to experience his first ever 70s Weekender at Butlin's (below).

Challenge 7 was a visit to Bury Market followed by the eighth challenge, taking on a game of 'electric shock' laser tag in Morecambe!

This past weekend he also completed the Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge (Phil is pictured below with his wife Diane).

Over the May bank holiday, Phil will be doing a 71-mile march in two days around the coast of the Isle of Wight, where he was born.

This challenge will raise funds for Citizens Advice and you can donate here. 

"I work with families who are experiencing cancer," said Phil.

"In the first 10 months we uncovered over £1m of benefits that people were entitled to that (they) weren't able to claim and it's about how can we build on that and make sure that work continues."

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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