Steve Cole, GW4BLE, 2nd December 2016

| December 2, 2016
Steve Cole, GW4BLE (SK)

Steve Cole, GW4BLE (SK)

Steve Cole, GW4BLE died on the 2nd of December 2016 at the age of 64. He was a lifelong member of the RSGB. His main interest was HF operating and certainly ranked highly among the UKs most prominent DXers and contesters. It wasn’t simply in this country though: “Bravo Lima Echo” was a refrain heard and instantly recognised the world over.

He was high on the ARRL DXCC Honor Roll and as well as taking part in RSGB domestic events, he had many wins in CQWW Contests to his credit.

As a young boy he started out in what was then the traditional way. He became a Short Wave Listener, first to broadcast stations and then amateur transmissions. That’s when the ‘bug’ bit! He quickly passed his Radio Amateurs Exam, took his Morse test and obtained the callsign GW4BLE. He was a keen member of his local Blackwood and then Newport Radio Club in South Wales. Much later, prominent in the Three As contest group, his expertise was invaluable – and no more so on their field day excursions.

Like many radio amateurs his job was related to his hobby. He joined BT as an apprentice and then climbed through the ranks to his dream job as a Radio Planner. This professional discipline carried through into his hobby.

A first class amateur radio operator, he was always ready to embrace the latest techniques and his perfectly engineered shack was a testament to his technical skills. He was always welcoming and encouraging to newcomers and anyone who visited him would marvel at just how many large HF beams he managed to cram into his small hilltop garden!

Steve was a great family man and his wife Mandy whole-heartedly supported him in his hobby. Just last Christmas [2015] his son Adam and daughter-in-law Alison had baby William, making Steve the happiest Grand-dad imaginable.

He’ll be sadly missed, not just by his family but in the world family of amateur radio.



Steve was an ardent (and highly successful) supporter of the huge annual CQWW SSB contest. CQWW organisers have agreed that every year from 2016 onwards a plaque in memory of Steve will be awarded to the highest scoring European Station in the Classic Section. It will be managed by the World Wide Radio Operators Fund, WWROF, which is a great initiative started by Ron, GW3YDX. Many of his close friends have already contributed and a substantial fund has been passed on to the organisers. Ron has agreed to keep the fund open for a few more months [from December 2016] and anyone else who would like a donation in memory of Steve, however small, can do so by Paypal to In the remarks please mention your callsign and GW4BLE.

Tribute by Ian Pritchard, G3WVG


My friend and yours Mr Steve Cole, GW4BLE has this gone silent key. He fought a gallant fight against a dreaded disease, even beating it back once, but in the end it returned. (He was a valiant fighter as the ham world knows in his efforts & attainments in contesting).

Poor Steve, weakened by his constant struggle, went SK around 2.30am on the 2nd of December 2016.

Remembrance & sympathy to his wife Mandy, his son, and his family.

God rest his soul.

73 my good friend.

Glyn, GW0ANA


Such sad news. He will be greatly missed. For many years he was a premier DXer and set such high standards to which so many aspired.

I was so sorry not to be able to present his award at the Convention this year.

A really great amateur.

Rest in peace, Steve.

Nick Henwood, G3RWF
RSGB President


Steve and I were licensed a couple of months apart in 1973/74. Shortly afterwards we both had our first contesting experiences at GW6GW, the Blackwood & District ARS. Steve went on to become a top contest operator and DXer  known and respected worldwide. I often worked Steve in contests and events and always caught up with him at shows and rallies over the years. I emailed him a couple of years ago to wish him a long and enjoyable retirement, however, it appears to have been tragically cut short.  His family is in our thoughts, we will miss you Steve and your call.

Richard Mortimore, GW4BVJ



I have just read with shock and sadness about Steve, GW4BLE. I am the same age and I think we were licenced at roughly the same time. We followed a similar career path. I worked him many many times while in UK as G3ZXD and over the last few decades always had him in my CQWW SSB log when operating as ZL2BNJ, ZM2K and lately as ZL2MF. I will miss those QSOs.

My regards to his family from ZL.

Maurice, ZL2MF/G3ZXD
Leigh, NZ


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Category: Silent Keys