A FORMER soldier who left the Army and found himself homeless has dramatically turned his life around and now has a successful book on Amazon.
At one time Steve Woody, from Linford Drive in Basildon, was living in the back of his then-girlfriend’s KA for six months after his life spiralled out of control and he lost all contact with his family.
Now he has written a book, Plan Your Website, which is available on pre-order and already an Amazon hit.
Steve, who was in the Royal Signals from 2001-2006, said he left the Army for a life of fame and fortune that he always craved, but it wasn’t as easy as he thought.
“Most people on the street are ex-forces,” Steve told the Enquirer. “You become institutionalised in the Army. You are reliable, trustworthy and told where to go and what to do, but then you come out and have to fend for yourself. It can be challenging.”
And Steve’s life on the streets, where he was homeless three times, wasn’t his only problem, as a gambling addiction left him bankrupt in 2011 to the tune of £30,000.
“I have always struggled with money,” the 33-year-old continued. “I was a really good poker player but a terrible gambler. Unfortunately, poker is often played in a casino.
“I would win tournaments and spend it all before I left. I always wanted to live a flamboyant lifestyle.”
Steve, who has a six-year-old daughter Lilly Ann, realised he needed to change his ways in a pivotal moment outside the Triangle building in Basildon on 31 October 2011.
“I had two black bags and a two-year-old daughter,” he said. “I had walked away from my family, girlfriend and my t-shirt printing business at the time and just declared myself homeless once more.
“I said to myself ‘this is never happening again – I cannot let my daughter go through this’. I needed to get out of the situation to be able to fix it. You don’t always realise how bad things are until you step back.
“I put my family through hell,” he added. “As a result I didn’t speak to them for over three years.”
It took six weeks for Steve to find a flat, with the help of his dad, and his life began to get back on track with the discovery of the Yes Group, a personal development community in Essex.
When Steve bravely decided to stand up and tell his story, he got a rather unexpected reaction.
“I stood up and blurted out my story and everyone said it was really inspiring,” he said.
Since then, Steve has worked tirelessly to build his life back up and now owns his own limited company, Online Mastery, which teaches people how to create their own website.
He has been backstage at events with the likes of Donald Trump, Chris Moyles and Richard Branson – a far cry from the homeless life he once lived.
His latest masterpiece is his book, Plan Your Website, which took two years to put together and is now a best-seller in five categories on Amazon.
Steve said: “I never want to write a book again – I think I would rather give birth!
“This had to be my best book, it is my life’s work and I put everything into it. I am humble in where I’ve been and where I am and I have learnt a lot through the people I have met.
“I know what works, so the book was a no-brainer.”
And he hasn’t only been successful on the business front, as a chance meeting online led to him planning his dream wedding to fiancé Jaime, which will take place in America on 12 November.
He has also been reunited with his family, spending every other weekend with daughter Lilly Ann, saying: “I want her to have every experience she can in a way I never could.”
But through his accomplishments, Steve hasn’t forgotten the times he was desperate, choosing to channel his feelings through helping ex-soldiers and the homeless.
Gathering 30-40 friends together on a London bus, which he dubs the ‘party bus with gratitude’, Steve and his pals make up rucksacks of necessities for people on the street and give them out.
“Being on the streets is a very desperate situation to face,” he said,“but it’s not always as bad as what people are running away from.
“The most important thing we can give the homeless is our time and some self-worth. I always say: never look down on someone unless you are helping them up.”
“I remember when I was sleeping on the street in Trafalgar Square one night and looking up at buildings thinking ‘wow, how amazing would it be to be in there,’” he continued.
“Fast forward three years and I was on the roof of the Hilton’s Vista Bar looking down at where I used to sleep – I could never have imagined it then.”
Steve’s book, Plan Your Website, is available to pre-order on Amazon and is on sale from Saturday, 24 October.
Talking about what he would say to himself all those years ago on the street, Steve concluded: “Don’t be too hard on yourself – you are always going to be your own worst critic.
“Anything is possible and the past does not define your future.”
He added: “I’ve never considered myself of being newsworthy, but if I can inspire someone to do something, this would be the ultimate reward.”