BY Martin Dunlop | June 20 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print

Raymond Blanc

Michelin chef gives schoolgirl blogger a star

Raymond Blanc, one of the world’s top chefs, has thrown his support behind Martha Payne, the 9-year-old Scottish primary school blogger, who has now raised more than £90,000 for Mary’s Meals charity

Raymond Blanc (above), the French chef who runs the Michelin starred Le Manoir restaurant in Oxfordshire, joins his famous cooking contemporaries, Jamie Oliver and Nick Nairn, in being amazed by the extraordinary efforts of kind-hearted Martha and the supporters of her NeverSeconds blog.

The Lochgilphead Primary School pupil made headlines across the UK and the rest of the world last week after Argyll and Bute Council banned her from posting pictures of her school dinners on her online blog. The council overturned its decision, following a public outcry, and hundreds of thousands of visitors have since logged onto Martha’s blog, which contains a link to an online donations page for Mary’s Meals, the international charity with its origins in Scotland that sets up school feeding projects in countries where poverty and hunger prevent children from getting an education.

“The newspapers and the internet have been alive with reports of Martha Payne (below),” Mr Blanc said. “What a wonderful, smart and brave girl!

“She has done a very simple thing: taking a photograph of her lunch and telling us what she thought of it each day. But she has also done something many grown men and women might fail to do.”

As a result of the donations received so far, Martha has raised enough money to build a kitchen shelter and feed all 1963 pupils at Lirangwe Primary School in Blantyre, Malawi for a whole school year.

And, in addition to the children at Lirangwe School, a further 6700 of the world’s poorest young people are set to begin receiving Mary’s Meals thanks to Martha’s hard work—with that number continuing to rise with every donation of £10.70.

As well as paying tribute to Martha for raising money for Mary’s Meals, Mr Blanc added that ‘she has raised awareness of the standards of food provided in most schools—tastes, textures, flavours and nutrition.’

“She has also created a dialogue with schoolchildren and students across the world where we can all discover what they are eating,” he said.

Responding to the chef’s comments, Martha’s father Dave, said he is ‘touched’ by the ‘kind words for Martha and Mary’s Meals.’

“His support, along with the overwhelming response we have seen from around the world, has been amazing and we are so, so grateful,” he said. “This will mean a lot to Martha because Raymond is someone who she loves watching on the television.”

Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow, Mary’s Meals founder and chief executive, added: “We continue to be absolutely blown away by the scale of the response to Martha’s efforts over the last week. Martha is obviously a very special young girl and we couldn’t thank her, her family and her supporters enough for everything they have done.”


To donate to Martha’s appeal, please visit:


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