Martha Payne's blog raised enough money for a new kitchen in Malawi, but it worried council officials

Argyll and Bute Council has lifted a ban on a nine-year-old girl taking photographs of her school meals for a blog.

Martha Payne, who started her NeverSeconds blog to raise money for Catholic charity Mary’s Meals, was banned from taking photographs of her school meals yesterday. She said on her blog that she had been taken out of class and had had a meeting with the head teacher.

This morning, however, council leader Roddy McCuish told the BBC that he had asked senior officials to lift the ban immediately.

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The council had previously said that press coverage of the blog had led catering staff to fear for their jobs.

The Daily Record newspaper had printed a photograph of Martha alongside chef Nick Nairn under the headline “Time to fire the dinner ladies..”

Her blog had become an internet sensation, with more than two million hits. Each post published a picture of her food with a ratings list including “number of mouthfuls”, “health rating” and “pieces of hair”.

By 2.30pm today (Friday, June 15) Martha’s blog had raised more than £24,000.

A spokeswoman for Mary’s Meals said the money was enough to pay for a new kitchen and to feed 2,000 children for a year.

A statement issued this morning said: “We are overwhelmed by the huge response to her efforts today which has led to so many more people donating to her online donation page. Thanks to this fantastic support, Martha has now raised enough money to build a kitchen in Malawi for children receiving Mary’s Meals as part of our Sponsor A School initiative and has broken the record for hitting a Sponsor A School online fundraising target in the quickest amount of time!

“The fact Martha has broken her target means we have been able to allocate her a school in Malawi, the African country where Mary’s Meals feeds more than 540,000 children every school day. Lirangwe Primary School in Blantyre, Malawi – which has 1963 pupils – will soon have a brand new kitchen shelter thanks to Martha and her supporters and, if donations continue at the current rate, it will not be long before a year’s feeding costs for all of the Lirangwe children are covered too.

“Mary Meals is a global movement that sets up school feeding projects in some of the world’s poorest communities where hunger and poverty stop children from gaining an education. It costs us just £10.70 to provide Mary’s Meals to a child for a whole school year, so any support, no matter how small, can help us make a real difference.”

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