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Blogger Martha enjoys a new taste of success

SCHOOLGIRL Martha Payne won the Public Campaigner of the Year award after raising more than £120,000 for children in Malawi in a school dinners blog which her local council tried to ban.

Nine-year-old Martha, from Lochgilphead, Argyll, set out to raise funds for the charity Mary's Meals in April with a blog in which she posted daily reviews of the lunches served up at her school, accompanied by a picture of the meal.

The blog, NeverSeconds, raised around £2000 in its first month and garnered column inches in Scottish and national press about the standard of school dinners across the country.

In June, six weeks after Martha set up the blog, she was told by Argyll and Bute Council she could no longer take photographs of her lunches as media coverage apparently left catering staff fearing for their jobs.

The ban left Martha concerned she would not be able to raise enough money for a kitchen for Mary's Meals and sparked a barrage of negative publicity for the council, which backtracked on its decision.

In the meantime, donations to her JustGiving page rocketed to £20,000 – more than enough for a new kitchen – and has now climbed to £114,000.

In October, Martha and her family travelled to Malawi to see the kitchen shelter built at Lirangwe School in Blantyre, Malawi, with some of the money she raised.

She also met children who will receive a meal from Mary's Meals for a whole school year thanks to her blog.

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