A GREENOCK dad who feared he'd be dead or serving a life sentence behind bars is instead looking forward to marrying his soulmate.

William Carter was caught in a downward spiral of addiction which saw him spend half of his life in prison.

But thanks to The Haven charity in Kilmacolm - which is marking its 30th anniversary - he has turned his life around and will wed his 'best friend' in June.

The 37-year-old from Gibshill is due to marry partner Anne Docherty, who not only helped him during his troubles but also showed great personal strength to recover from terrible injuries sustained during a car crash which tragically claimed two young lives.

William says he was 'trapped in a chaotic lifestyle' of addiction and criminality for 17 years.

The turning point came when he was persuaded to go on to the local Teen Challenge Bus.

He then went into the Haven and underwent an 18-month rehab programme which had a miraculous impact on him.

William said: "It was the most challenging thing I've ever done.

"Now I have an amazing life, a fulfilled life and a future.

"When I was trapped in addiction, I could not see past the next hour."

He said when visited the Teen Challenge Bus he decided he had to make a choice of what he wanted in his life.

William said: "I thought there are four things that could happen - someone could take my life, I could take someone else's life, I could overdose or spend life in prison.

"I had to make a choice. It was like being thrown a life jacket."

Fast forward three years and he is now engaged to Anne, the mother of his 13-year-old son Maison.

He and Anne had been best friends since they attended Wellington Academy in Greenock, but then William turned to drugs when he was 16.

Anne said: "I supported him through that and took him out for lunch."

But then she was badly injured in a fatal road accident that took the life of her friend's daughter and another pal, on Gourock's Cloch Road in 2003.

Anne miraculously survived but was told she would never walk again or have any children.

Anne, 37, of Davey Street, said: "It was very traumatic. My friend lost her 10-year-old daughter in the accident and our other friend also died, he was only 22.

"It was horrific for everyone involved.

"William helped me throughout it and it then our friendship became a relationship

"I was told I'd never walk again and I would never have children but then we had Maison."

The couple's joy was shortlived, as William relapsed again and ended up going back to prison for seven and a half years.

Anne said: "They way he is now and what he was like then, it's like dark and light.

"He was very aggressive, very angry, wild and very unpredictable.

"Now it's like having my best friend back when we were at school.

"He's so reliable, open and honest."

"Through the addiction he became Willie Carter, now he's back to William."

After the pair, who attend Struthers Memorial Church, got back together they decided to get married.

Anne said: "It's the next step.

"I feel excited and nervous."

During their separation Anne had another relationship and has a daughter, aged five, and a four-year-old son and William is ready to play a big part in their lives.

Anne said: "William is going to be a stepdad, through them he has made amends for the time he missed with Maison."

While the couple had always remained friends while separated it was Anne's mum Margaret who helped to bring them together.

William said: "We had always been friends. Anne's mum was a volunteer on the Teen Challenge Bus and kept pestering me to go on the bus, I did, then I went into the Haven. It saved my life.

"For the first time in 17 years I took responsibility for my own life."

With the help of the Haven, William has gained qualifications to become a full-time support worker helping other people who are in the same desperate place he was a few years ago.

He says he feels like he has a second chance in life.

He said: "I was in prison for half my life, the longest spell was for seven years and I didn't see my son during that time.

"It was very hard, but that is what comes with that lifestyle.

"I knew what I was doing was wrong but just put a mask on.

"Now I have the chance to be a proper dad and we're going to be a proper family.

"Coming to a place like The Haven restored my family back to me.

"It's a wonderful place.

"I learned things I was good at, self-worth and that I could be a dad."

William has now been drug-free for three and a half years and hasn't looked back.

He said: "It's like night and day. I wake up with a clear head and the worry and anxiety is all gone.

"It's been amazing and now I am involved and having an impact on other people's lives and I tell them that their lives don't need to be the way they are."

Margaret, a volunteer with the Teen Challenge Bus, said: "I kept texting William when he came out of prison asking him to come to my house for a chat and kept asking him to come on the bus.

"He eventually did and started watching DVDs of people who had come through the programme.

"Then one night I saw him filling out the application form for the Haven.

"It's hard to believe that William is now part of the team helping others on the bus.

"I'm so glad it's such a happy ending."