Raymond Blanc, widely regarded as one of the world’s top chefs, has thrown his support behind Martha Payne – the nine-year-old blogger who has now raised over £90,000 for school feeding charity Mary’s Meals.
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 and inspired by the extraordinary efforts of big-hearted Martha and the supporters of her NeverSeconds blog.
Blanc said: “The newspapers and the internet have been alive with reports of Martha Payne. 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’s also done something many grown men and women might fail to do.”
Martha’s online giving page has been abuzz for the last week with people from all over the world donating to Mary’s Meals, the international charity which sets up school feeding projects in countries where poverty and hunger prevent children from getting an education.
As a result of the donations received so far, Martha has raised enough money to build a kitchen shelter and feed all 1,963 pupils at Lirangwe Primary School in Blantyre, Malawi for a whole school year. And, in addition to the kids at Lirangwe School, a further 6,700 of the world’s poorest children 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.
Describing the momentous nature of what Martha has achieved, Raymond Blanc said: “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.
“But the real triumph must be to have raised so much money for Mary’s Meals, this charity which provides nutritious meals for seriously deprived areas of the world.”
Responding to the top chef’s comments, Martha’s father Dave, said: “’I am touched by his 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.
“This will mean a lot to Martha because Raymond is someone who she loves watching on telly.”
It costs Mary’s Meals a global average of just £10.70 to feed a hungry child for an entire school year. The charity currently provides a daily meal to over 650,000 kids every school day in 16 of the poorest countries, including Malawi, Liberia, Kenya, India and Haiti.
Mary’s Meals founder and chief executive Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow said: “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.
“As a result of their beautiful acts of kindness, the lives of thousands of the world’s poorest children will be transformed. Instead of being hungry and working for their next meal, these children will be sitting in a classroom with a full stomach, learning how to read and write.”