Yesterday a school in Argyle and Bute banned nine-year-old Martha Payne from taking pictures of her school dinners. She had been blogging about her lunches and her posts were cooking up a storm and attracting widespread media attention. She had also managed to raise £2,000 for for Mary's Meals, a charity that provides school meals for children in Africa.
Last night she wrote about the ban "this morning in maths I got taken out of class by my head teacher and taken to her office. I was told that I could not take any more photos of my school dinners because of a headline in a newspaper today...I will miss sharing and rating my school dinners ...I don't think I will be able to finish raising enough money for a kitchen for Mary's Meals either. Goodbye, VEG
Well how wrong she was. There was widespread outrage across social networks against the heavy handedness of Argyll and Bute Council who posted a statement on-line defending their actions. "Argyll and Bute Council wholly refutes the unwarranted attacks on its schools catering service which culminated in national press headlines which have led catering staff to fear for their jobs. The Council has directly avoided any criticism of anyone involved in the 'never seconds' blog ...despite a strongly held view that the information presented in it misrepresented the options and choices available to pupils...so a decision has been made by the council to stop photos being taken in the school canteen." Donors to the appeal for Mary's Meals started to mount up.
The leader of Argyll and Bute Council appeared live on BBC Radio 4's World at One to face tough questions on the decision. To the surprise of interviewer Edward Stourton he announced the reversal of the council's decision live on air.
Donations which had already reached £17,000 continued to pour in. Martha's aim had been to raise enough money to fund a school kitchen for a school in Africa that would be named after her blog 'NeverSeconds'. which would have cost a total of £7000. By 5pm her fundraising page had raised £35,000 or enough to buy five kitchens.