Martha hailed as a “legend in her own lunchtime”
June 20, 2012
CELEBRATED school dinners blogger Martha Payne has been inundated with messages of thanks from school kids in Africa who are set to get a new kitchen thanks to her…and the banning furore created by Argyll and Bute Council.
An anonymous high-handed official sparked a global media storm by ordering the nine-year-old, of Lochgilphead, to stop posting pictures of her sparse lunch plates on her ‘NeverSeconds’ web page.
But the move – and the subsequent U-turn by the embarrassed local authority – has rocketed her fundraising efforts for Argyll-based food charity Mary’s Meals from £2,000 to an astonishing £85,000.
Now there’s enough money to build a new kitchen shelter and feed an entire school for a year at Lirangwe Primary in Blantyre, Malawi – as part of the Mary’s Meals Sponsor a School initiative.
The pupils wrote on their classroom blackboard, ‘Thank you Martha and your friends’ – and sang songs in appreciation of all the help they have been given.
Meanwhile, another 8,000 children in some of the world’s poorest countries can now be fed off the back of the gargantuan response to Martha’s blog and the publicity created by stuffy council bosses.
Mary’s Meals – based in Dalmally – says it has been “humbled” by what Martha and her blog followers and supporters have achieved.
Martha has chosen to name her kitchen in Malawi ‘Friends of NeverSeconds’.
She said: “It’s really good because it can feed lots of children for a long time.
“Calling the kitchen Friends of NeverSeconds is important as it’s a thank you to everyone who has supported me and Mary’s Meals.
“Mary’s Meals is a very simple charity and it can achieve so much with so very little.”
Herald newspaper columnist Colette Douglas Home yesterday hailed Martha as a “legend in her own lunchtime”, adding that the schoolgirl’s camera had “exposed the low nutritional value and scant quantity of her school dinners”.
Argyll and Bute MP Alan Reid said the council had become a global “laughing stock” over the whole affair.
He said: “The decision to ban Martha from taking photos of her school dinners, followed by a humiliating U-turn, has made Argyll and Bute a laughing stock throughout the world.
“Martha should be congratulated for the success of her blog which has raised many thousands of pounds for Mary’s Meals. The council’s blundering turned a potentially good news story into complete humiliation.
“The council was right to be concerned about the disgraceful tabloid headline ‘Time to Fire the Dinner Ladies’, but banning photos of school dinners was a ridiculous over-reaction.
“The tabloid headline was complete nonsense because Martha rated her latest meal 10 out of 10.
“The Council’s new SNP administration must get a grip of how to manage the media in the internet age.
“Instead of knee jerk censorship they should have congratulated Martha for her innovative blog. This would have given Argyll and Bute positive publicity throughout the world.”
The council today refused to say which council department and official ordered the draconian ban on Martha’s blog pictures.
A spokeswoman for the local authority said: “We do not comment on individual members of staff. We can confirm however that the decision was taken at the appropriate officer level.”