To further celebrate and honour Peter Norman Day on October 9th, Athletics Australia announced the inaugural Peter Norman Humanitarian Award. This will be an annual award presented to a member of the Australian athletics community who exemplifies the spirit of Peter Norman through their work for human rights, equality and humanitarian causes. The award will be open to anyone within the Athletics Australia Family, including athletes, coaches, volunteers, officials, team staff, AA staff or recreational runners.
The inaugural recipient in 2018 is two-time Olympian Eloise Wellings, who was chosen due to her inspiring work as founding Director of the Love Mercy Foundation. Love Mercy began in 2010 in Sydney, after Eloise Wellings met Ugandan Olympian and former child soldier, Julius Achon. She promised to fulfil his dream of restoring hope to his village in Northern Uganda after decades of civil war.
To do this Eloise and Julius founded Love Mercy, a Foundation that exists to see Northern Ugandans overcome poverty and live an empowered life, free to claim their basic human rights to secure food supply, income, education, health, and equality.
One of Love Mercy’s most successful programs is its Cents for Seeds program, which empowers women to reinvest their earnings into food, education and health care for both themselves and their children. These women have access to savings and loans groups, which enable them to borrow money for emergencies or larger household purchases. The women then give back their loan in seeds at the end of their first harvest so it can be passed onto other women, making it a project of both sustainability and growth.
Within 12 months, a $30 gift will have enabled a woman to release her and future generations from poverty. In 2016, 6,500 women and their families were empowered by the Cents for Seeds program, and it is hoped that number will increase to 20,000 by 2020. This year Love Mercy also partnered with Water for Africa with the goal to build 12 wells, providing fresh, clean and accessible water with the funds raised from running and walking events across Australia.
"I am so honoured to be receiving the Peter Norman Humanitarian Award”, said Wellings.
“Peter Norman has always been a hero of mine. His heart for justice, his courage to stand up against inequality and racism and his sacrifice in using his athletic career as a platform to bring light to these things and advocate for change is truly inspiring to me. Peter’s is a legacy of standing and speaking up for what is right without fear of the consequences.”
Eloise is not only an remarkable humanitarian but also an inspiring Olympian, having been a member of the Australian Team at both the 2012 and 2016 Games. In Rio she had top ten results in both the 5,000 and 10,000 metres. Since her debut at the World Juniors in 1998, she has represented Australia in 18 other major teams, including five World Cross Country, three World Championships and four Commonwealth Games.
She was the World University Games gold medallist at 5,000 metres in 2003 and a member of Australia’s bronze medal winning team at the 2006 World Cross Country. In a career at the top level now spanning 21 years, Eloise has been national champion on nine occasions – on either the track or road.
Eloise was founding director of Love Mercy and serves as its ambassador in a volunteer capacity, bringing her vision and strategy to the Foundations board to direct its overall operations. Those who know Eloise would not be surprised at her work in this area.
“Eloise is a driven athlete, who has persevered through injuries and juggled parenthood to achieve great individual success in her athletic career, yet at the same time demonstrated a high degree of empathy for others and great generosity of spirit,” said Athletletics Australia CEO Darren Gocher.
“This is reflected in her work with building Love Mercy and the results it has produced. So it is with great pleasure that AA announces Eloise Wellings as the worthy winner of the inaugural Peter Norman humanitarian award for 2018.”
To support Eloise's worthy cause, Athletics Australia will be donating to Love Mercy, which is funded entirely by the generosity of the public. Love Mercy raises finds through direct donations, donations through running and walking events across Australia, as well as sales from the gift shop. Please visit the Love Mercy foundation for further information http://www.lovemercyfoundation.org/home