Get Connected is the largest privately-owned and independent mobile phone retailer in the UK, with 50 stores across Wales and the South West.
It prides itself on excellent customer service and its ability to offer a full range of handsets and a great choice of mobile networks – including EE, 3, Vodafone and BT, as well as some of the biggest Unified Communication providers in the UK – to get the best coverage in your area.
Get Connected’s friendly and highly trained staff will listen to a customer’s needs to ensure that it can match them with the perfect handset and network that suits any budget. It can even offer a free ‘Walk Out Working’ service to get you started with your new phone and you can always call in if you need more help.
A dedicated Business Team provides all business clients, large and small, with effective communications packages to meet their business needs – offering a ‘One Stop Shop’ for all business clients, regardless of size.
With its head office in Abergavenny, Get Connected has call centres in Blackwood, Caerphilly, Carmarthen and Port Talbot.
Originally conceived in 1992 and trading as Oasis Mobile Phones, Get Connected has gone from strength to strength ever since. Trading from home, the company’s founder Damian Cole soon found that business premises were essential to expansion. With help from Caerphilly Borough Council, a small industrial unit was located in Blackwood in 1996, but a true retail presence was still missing. A limited company, Oasis Communication Services Ltd, was formed in April 1997, quickly followed in June by the first retail store on Blackwood High Street, opened by Welsh rugby star Neil Jenkins. Many new stores and accolades have since followed.
In 1998 Get Connected won the Gwent TEC business award for marketing; in 1999 we were the 10th fastest growing company in Wales and in the following year, 2000 we were the 2nd fastest growing company from a total of 51,000 businesses!
A stronger brand identity was introduced in 2001 by changing the trading name from Oasis Mobile Phones to Get Connected.
In October 2005 it acquired the Connections Centres chain of seven stores and their corporate team, making Get Connected the largest independent mobile phone retailer based in Wales. Further acquisitions and new store openings have followed in both England and Wales, reaching a milestone of 50 stores across Wales and the South West.
Date of birth: 10th December 1970
Place of birth: Pontypool, Monmouthshire
Lives: Abergavenny, Monmouthshire
Rally debut: 1995
Cars Rallied: Škoda Fabia R5, Ford Focus RS WRC05, Ford Fiesta RS WRC, Ford Escort Mk2 (road rally spec), 2.5-litre Millington-engined Ford Escort Mk2, Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9, Hyundai Accent WRC3.5, Subaru Impreza S5 WRC 98, 2-litre Vauxhall-engined Darrian T90, 2.5-litre Darrian T90 GTR, Toyota Celica ST205, Mitsubishi Lancer Evo V, Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VI, Pinto-engined Darrian T9, 2.2-litre Millington-engined Darrian T9, Metro 6R4, Ford Sierra RS Cosworth, Ford Sierra RS Sapphire Cosworth, Peugeot 309 GTi, Peugeot 205 GTi, Volkswagen Golf GTI.
Damian Cole’s rallying career began in the early 1990s when he joined his local Ystrad Mynach Motor Club and started to navigate on road rallies.
His first event was the Three Rivers Road Rally. Neither he nor his novice driver knew the rules, so when leaving the start control outside the Castle Hotel in Llandovery they bounced their Mini off the rev limiter and left the car park in a cloud of tyre smoke! When they arrived at the start of the first selective, all the cars ahead of them were parked up and using the road section time to plot the entire route. Unbeknown, Damian instructed his driver to overtake everyone and then booked in 45 minutes early – going from running last to third on the road! It was a very difficult navigational event, even for the expert crews, and Damian reached the finish with a significant number of fails.
Another early road rally, this time in an MG Midget, saw him complete the event with the broken exhaust wedged between the driver and co-driver inside the car and a loose co-driver’s seat that had been ripped out of mountings. On another event, a Escort Mk1 survived the journey to west Wales, despite no ratchet straps and only the handbrake and good fortune preventing it from falling off the trailer.
There was success too, as Damian won the Leukemia Historic Rally outright, navigating in a Cortina Mk2 – but those early years were all about learning and having fun.
From these humble beginnings, Damian has become one of the most celebrated and successful national rally drivers in the UK – notching up record-breaking victories in a variety of powerful two- and four-wheel drive machinery.
Damian purchased his first rally car in the mid-1990s, a green Volkswagen Golf GTI for the princely sum of £430, in which he started his driving career.
He won his first trophy on the 1998 Midsummer Tour of Caerwent, finishing first in class and sixth overall in a newly-acquired Escort Mk2.
It was at the same military training area in Monmouthshire where, two years later, Damian scored his first outright rally victory – winning the Tour of Caerwent in a 2-litre Vauxhall-engined Darrian T90; beating Graham Middleton on a tiebreak.
The early 2000s was a career-defining period, when Damian began to master high-powered machinery. He rallied four versions of the famous Welsh-built fibreglass Darrian supercars – first a Pinto-engined T9, followed by a 2-litre Millington-engined T9, the Vauxhall-engined T90 and then the ex-John Dalton 2.5-litre Millington-engined T90 GTR rocket – in which he won the Welsh Rally (National A) event by one of the biggest winning margins ever recorded on Epynt; 7mins 36.5sec, despite easing off over the closing stages!
There were other extremely fast cars too – like two Metro 6R4s, an ex-Colin McRae Subaru Impreza S5 WRC 98 and a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo V and VI.
Despite still being relatively new to the sport, Damian had gone from being a potential top 10 finisher to challenging for rally wins in a very short period of time.
Having contested road rallies and asphalt stage events, in 2004 Damian turned his attention to gravel rallying, contesting the British, Welsh National and BTRDA Gold Star championships. And he didn’t take the easy option of learning the art of gravel rallying in easy cars to drive, instead facing the new challenge head-on by heading into the woods in firstly a Subaru Impreza WRC (in 2004) and then a Hyundai Accent WRC3.5 (in 2005).
Over the next few years he finished in the top three of the BTRDA Gold Star Series – third in 2006 and ’08 and runner-up, missing out of the title by just two points, in 2007 – with second overall finishes coming on events like the Somerset Stages Rally, Dukeries (a rally he’s finished second on four times) and the Quinton.
Damian has finished second on a forestry rally 13 times, and become Welsh National Forest Rally champion twice (in 2006 and ’07), although an overall rally victory on gravel still eludes him.
2010 was a good year and a turning point for Damian, as he began to contest more asphalt events than gravel ones – the challenge of making pace notes on a recce and the extra speed and commitment it brings giving sealed-surface competition the edge.
It was also his first full season driving a Ford Focus RS WRC05, a car in which he went on to campaign for over a decade, and with an enormous amount of success.
Competing against Irish drivers on Irish asphalt is one of the ultimate challenges – and in 2010 Damian won the ALMC Stages in Dublin, putting an inspired tyre choice of slicks in drying conditions to good use in the closing stages. He also won the famous Wexford Rally for the first time – a feat he would repeat in 2011 and 2014.
2010 was also the year in which Damian won the National Asphalt Rally Championship title for the first time – an achievement he would repeat in the next four consecutive years, and winning the title for a sixth time in 2016.
There were other outings during this period – like winning the Builth Showground Stages in his 320bhp 2.5-litre Millington-engined Escort Mk2 and selected road rallies and forest events – but he was really making a name by dominating the Asphalt Championship and wracking up an impressive number of rally victories on Epynt.
And Damian’s record over the mid-Wales rollercoaster military range is impressive. He’s recorded rally wins on eight different events – Tour of Epynt, Mewla, Harry Flatters, Welsh, Hailwood Trophy, Mini Epynt, Dixies Challenge and the Nicky Grist Stages Acropolis Rally – and has recorded an record equalling 23 wins at the venue.
2015 saw a Fiesta RS WRC (an ex-M-Sport/Petter Solberg test car) join the Get Connected Rally Team stable, and on its maiden event Damian won the Harry Flatters Stages Rally in it. There have been some great results in the car, but with its front suspension geometry giving it a tendency to dart around the road at high speed, it was never the easiest car to tame on uneven UK asphalt. The car has a new home now, in Barbados.
Before it headed to the Caribbean, the Fiesta did carry Damian to victory on the 2019 Mewla Rally – a record-equally sixth win (shared with the late John Price).
Damian looked on course to win his seventh National Asphalt rally title in 2019. After an incredible season of great results and consistency – which saw him never finish lower than third and scoring maximum points on Rally van Wervik and the Mewla Rally – he arrived at the final round of the series with an 11 point lead. But despite finishing ahead of his nearest rival on the Cheviot Stages, the scores to drop rule worked against him, leaving Damian in the runners-up position by just one point.
For his 2019 campaign, Damian called upon five different co-drivers – Shelley Rogerson, Max Freeman, Dale Bowen, Paul Spooner and Andrew Roughead. Drivers usually tend to stick with one co-driver and quite often have no more than two or three co-drivers throughout their entire career. But Damian is different and doesn’t mind going with a different navigator, providing they can do the job. It’s given opportunities to many a young co-driver – Craig Drew, James Morgan, Elliott Edmondson, Dale Bowen, Max Freeman and Jack Morton – and he’s also been partnered by two of the most acclaimed co-drivers on the UK, namely Nicky Grist (on forest and road rally events) and Phil Mills (retiring from second on the 2011 Manx Rally).
UK rallying was virtually wiped out by Covid-19 restrictions in 2020, with all motorsport suspended for a large part of the year. When rallying did resume, Damian entered the Cotswold Stages Rally, but retired his Focus WRC05 early with an alternator and ECU problem. He was also scheduled to run as course opening car on the Rali Adfer Coedwigoedd Cymru – the first Covid-19 compliant trial forest rally to be allowed to run in Wales. On the day itself Damian accepted a late invitation to contest the event and took over the top seeded position, finishing 9th overall in his road rally spec Escort.
In 2021, Damian is planning to contest the Protyre Motorsport UK Asphalt Rally Championship in a newly-acquired Škoda Fabia R5 – a car less powerful than his World Rally Cars, but one in which he believes can finally give him that seventh title – and the outright record of number of rally wins on Epynt.
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