Thursday 22 November 2012

My trip to the Liberty Awards in London

I have not written about my trip to London for the Liberty Human Rights Awards before because I didn't have a photo to show you until today. I went to London on the sleeper train which was very bumpy. I enjoyed parts of the night but i got on it very late after my bedtime and so I was awake when I should have been asleep.

In London we went straight to the Palace of Westminster. Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale arranged our visit. He's a big Mary's Meals supporter and it was very kind of him. I learnt that Lords can pick where they are 'Lord of' and Glenscorrodale is on Arran and I can see Arran from my bedroom window.

You can see my security tag in the photograph. The tour was brilliant but I didn't understand all the history between Scotland and England. The rooms are beautiful but you must not sit down when visiting the House of Lords or the House of Commons. I leant on the dispatch box in the House of Commons and pretended to be Prime Minister! You can go to the lobby and ask to see your MP and they must come and see you if they are there. I didn't try asking for my MP, maybe next time.

The Liberty Awards were in the South Bank Centre in the evening. It's always hard when you arrive because you don't know anyone and everyone else is an adult. Loads of people came and said hello straight away though and were really kind. It was brilliant. The BBC came as well and asked me some questions at the start.

I don't think Liberty agrees with the Government all the time. A man called the Attorney General said it was important Liberty kept asking questions. I didn't understand every award winner but I some I did. Some people had been fighting for fairness since before I was born. That's a long time.

'Photo Bill Knight'

When I saw Rowan Atkinson come out from behind the curtains I could not believe it! I wanted to call him Mr Bean or Johnny English but all I managed to say was thank you. His expression in the photograph is classic! My award was called Human Rights Young Person of the Year and it says on the certificate,

'For defending free expression when she stood up to her local council after they banned her publishing pictures of school meals on her blog, NeverSeconds. Reports of the ban caused widespread national and international outcry and, as a result, the council backed down. Since then, her website has been visited by over 6 million people and has raised over £100,000 for Mary's Meals, a charity which helps feed children in the developing world.'

I am very proud of my award but I don't want to sound big headed. We had to get the sleeper straight home afterwards but I met an actor called Benedict Cumberbatch and I asked him and Shami Chakrabarti who is in charge of Liberty to sign my copy of our book.

Going to the Houses of Parliament and the Liberty Awards on the same day was a great experience and it has left me thinking why we need both.



  1. Congratulations Martha on your award, well deserved I say, and never have you been big headed, so don't ever think that.

    Mr Bean's expression is classic and he plays Rowan Atkinson brilliantly, great guy and you have met both of him.

    I won't get political but you can fall asleep on the benches of the House of Lords & the House of Commons, it seems to happen often during sessions.

    You did well Martha and we are all proud of you!

  2. Liberty is an excellent organisation.

  3. Veg, you should never feel ill at ease or uncomfortable when in a room with all those adults. You have accomplished more in less than the last year to help solve a very serious world-problem than the vast majority of people do in their entire lives. So you have more right to be there than a lot of people!

    Same with seeming "big-headed." Your modesty is delightfully refreshing, but perhaps you have valid reason for having at least a little bit of a big head. ;)

    I suspect your response to that would be to say that none of this was intentional and that it never would have happened without all of your "Friends." So it wasn't all your doing. But, Veg, nothing happens without some sort of catalyst. Thousands and thousands of children would still be going hungry each day had you never started writing your blog, whether you meant for all this to happen when you started or not.

    It was your idea to start a giving page to Mary's Meals when you first gained notariety for your blog. And I can assure you, my sweet, that it took a lot less effort on my part to fill out a form on the internet to donate than you have put forth over the past few months. You were the catalyst for change. Not us.

    There's a valid reason why you are getting your photo taken with Rowan and pretending to be the Prime Minister by leaning on the dispatch box, and we aren't.

    And, by the way girlfriend: cute coat! (The red one.)

  4. Congratulations, Veg! Awsome pictures with Roman Atkinson and Benedict Cumberbatch - I love him!!

  5. A very good write up Martha. In a few words you have captured what Liberty does, fighting for fairness, asking questions which those in power do not like to be asked. As you learnt when you asked questions and your local council tried to silence you.

    Malawa spoke for education for girls and there was an attempt to silence her.

    Pussy Riot spoke out against abuse of power. Two members of Pussy Riot are now in a Penal Colony for two years, though Madonna and others are speaking out in their support.

    You are right to feel proud of your award and other are proud to see you receive it. Not once have you ever sounded big headed, on the contrary you are always very modest and caring for others.

    You ask why we need both, Liberty and Parliament? A very good question.

    We need people to represent us, but the same time, we need others to ensure they do not abuse their positions.

    You saw Magna Carta. Now check out a man called Thomas Paine. He came up with the very revolutionary idea, that if we had people from all parts of the country representing us, we would have fair representation. Unfortunately it has not worked out as he intended. That is why people like myself are calling for participatory democracy, where the ordinary person, including children, help take part in the decision making process.

    Sometimes it is necessary for people to take direct action, as we saw this time last year when people occupied outside St Paul's and as we will see on 8 December 2012 when people occupy Starbucks because Starbucks do not pay their fair share of tax. Because Starbucks do not pay their fair share of tax, we are seeing libraries close.

    Keep up the good work. It is through efforts by people like you, that the world becomes a better place, and that is why we are so proud of you.

    - Martha Payne Human Rights Young Person of the Year

  6. Don't think your big-headed Veg, what you've done is a very good thing and you should be really proud of it!


  7. Heartiest congratulations, Martha, for an award well-deserved! If I think back to when I was your age, I was just a "dumb kid" doing nothing but going to school and playing with friends. Your parents have obviously instilled in you a strong caring for others, and you are an amazing person and an inspiration!

  8. Love the red coat! Birthday present?

    Congratulations on the latest awards. I've lost count of how many now but they are all very well deserved.

  9. If anyone was left wondering why a wee Sottish lass was deserving of a Liberty Human Rights Award for defending free expression, then check out this TED Talk from TED Global in Edinburgh June 2012 and the interview with Martha.

    - Why Martha Payne was honoured by Liberty

  10. Congratulations Martha! I know I am going to repeat what everyone else said, but I wanted to add my voice to it all!
    Loved your coat, love this post and of the photo with Mr Bean! Wish I was lucky enough to meet him. :) You deserve to pat yourself on the back for all your accomplishments, so don't worry about sounding big headed.

  11. Well deserved Martha. You're an inspiration. Just started your book this morning...great stuff :-)

  12. Woahh, a picture with Mr Bean has no price!
    Congratulation Martha, well-deserved award for such a generous accomplishment and your everyday kindness you share with the world!!

  13. HI Martha, I heard about your blog on the news and I was deeply inspired by how you'd stuck up for yourself and created this amazing blog! I am only 11 myself and I must admit my school dinners aren't that great! Anyway please visit my blog at Geeklingsblog.blogspot...
    p.s I can't believe how many views you've had! From Geekling. x

  14. Congratulations! What an impressive accomplishment! Way to go!