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Royal Navy reunion in Trust Theatres

There are many well-established connections throughout staff at Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust via family or marriage, but the Theatres Department has a different kind of connection linking three men working there.


Math Scapens, Andy Smith and Stephen Simants, all served time as Medics in the Royal Navy and now their careers have led them all to the Trust’s Royal Albert Edward Infirmary.


Each of the men served at the same time but didn’t realise until they all started working for the Trust.   


Math, 40, from Ashton-In-Makerfield, Wigan, has worked at the Trust for almost four years and became a Theatre Co-ordinator earlier this year.


From 1999, Math spent 10 years serving as a Royal Navy Commando Medic in 45 Commando, based out of Arbroath, Scotland. He also qualified as an Operating Department Practioner (ODP) whilst in the navy.


Math Scapens during his time in the Royal Navy


“You basically had to carry your ambulance on your back” said Math, who served one tour in Northern Ireland and was on standby to go out to Afghanistan.


Math was responsible for caring for anyone injured on camp or during exercises and operations.


In 2009, Math decided to leave the Navy to help bring up his three children, Danny, Milly and Will with his wife, Lesley.


Six years later, an opportunity came up at WWL for Math to work as an ODP at Wigan.


Little did he know two other colleagues, who were working within the Theatres Department, had also served their time in the Royal Navy at the same time as him.


After a conversation with Andy, Theatre Practioner at the Trust, Math found out that Andy served with his best friend, Tom.


Andy, 49, from Adlington, Lancashire, served at 45 Commando as well as Math, however, it was only when they were introduced to each other at WWL, they realised.


Math was then introduced to Stephen Simants, an Anaesthetist at Wigan Infirmary, through Andy, and they then all realised that they had all trained as Commando Medics and served in the Royal Navy in the late nineties to early 2000’s.


Andy, Stephen, and Matt outside Theatres at Wigan Infirmary


“It’s such a small world that not only one, but two lads from the same Naval Unit now work in the same department as me,” said Math.


The Trust, is part of The Veterans Covenant Hospital Alliance (VCHA) and has been commended as a Veteran Aware Hospital.


“I think it’s really good that the Trust is Veteran aware,” said Math, who also attended the Trust’s D-Day celebration earlier this month.


“It shows that staff are aware of how to engage and acknowledge the service of veterans and serving members of the armed forces, while also helping to ensure that those patients have access to specific support information and prompt any necessary referrals to specific veteran care providers.”