Schoolgirl blogger Martha Payne sees fundraising total pass £80,000

Schoolgirl blogger Martha Payne sees fundraising total pass £80,000

Schoolgirl blogger Martha Payne's charity fundraising efforts have topped £80,000, following a council's decision to lift a ban on her taking photos of her school meals.

The nine-year old from Argyll has also recorded more than five million page views on her NeverSeconds blog.

When Argyll and Bute Council stopped her posting the photos, the fundraising total for Malawi school meal projects Mary's Meals had yet to reach £2,000 of Payne's original £7,000 target.

The primary school pupil was banned from posting photos of her school meals by Argyll and Bute council after it said that press coverage had led catering staff at her school to fear for their jobs, but council leader Roddy McCuish told the BBC on Friday he had instructed senior officials to lift the ban immediately.

The schoolgirl's father, David Payne, who helped her set up the blog, welcomed the decision.

Payne began publishing photographs of her Lochgilphead Primary School lunches on 30 April. Alongside the photos, she shared her honest feedback on the food, gave each meal a "food-o-meter" and health rating, and counted the number of mouthfuls it took her to eat it.

She has been using the blog to raise money for the Mary's Meals charity, and according to the BBC, the publicity helped her smash through her £7,000 fundraising target. Total pledges of more than £30,000 were made by Friday afternoon, up from £2,000 on Thursday evening, and this morning it stood at more than £82,000.

Speaking to the BBC's Sunday Politics Scotland programme, McCuish admitted that a "Dark Ages" approach to new media meant the council had got things wrong.

He said: "I would certainly apologise to Martha if it has caused her any angst whatsoever and we're meeting Mr Payne on Thursday - myself and locally elected members - to see if we can find a way forward."

In response to the soaring fundraising total, Payne posted on her blog: "A small thank you isn't enough so here's a big THANK YOU to you all!"

Mr Payne added: "A kitchen in Malawi costs £7,000. But there's so much extra there that it could feed thousands of children for a year.

"I believe it's something like £10 a year to feed a child at school and it's an incredibly small sum and so the generous support that has come in from around the world is going to make a huge difference to so many children.

"It's going to bring children into education and into a healthy meal - it's fantastic."

A Mary's Meals spokesman added: "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."

Schoolgirl blogger can continue after council U-turn >>

School meals blogger Martha Payne banned from taking photographs >>

By Janie Manzoori-Stamford

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