Nadia Sawalha was reduced to tears as her daughter Maddie, 14, spoke about being bullied at school. The mother-daughter pair were filming a video to promote anti-bullying, when Maddie's painful memories became all too much for her mum. "At first at school I was kind of ok. It wasn't a big deal to me. I didn't really mind," said Maddie. "And I think progressively, across time, it got more to me. It could be stuff said behind my back or literally just looks when you're walking down a hallway, people looking at you with a side eye. It was a tight feeling in the chest.
"I remember just being nervous because a lot of the people that bullied me there, they'd be on and off. They'd be really nice to me one day and then they'd be really horrible the next day, so it was going in and not knowing how they would be with me," said Maddie. Her words proved too much as Nadia welled up, choking back tears. "You crying?" asked Maddie, giving her mum a hug.
"It's such a simple thing to do to a person, just give them a sideways glance," said Nadia. "And I think often when children do that to other children they don't even know how painful that could be. They're just practising their power." She continued: "To hear that you were upset like that, I hate it. I hate it because I know you have such a good heart and I think this is the problem. School can be a place where amazing things happen but it can also be like Armageddon of different emotions, fears, terrors and bravado and panic and stress."
The Loose Women panellist was one of the stars who have spoken about bullying for the Diana Award's anti-bullying campaign, Back2School. Approximately ten million children are going back to school in the UK this month, and over half will be affected by bullying. The campaign hopes to raise awareness and funds to train an anti-bullying ambassador in each school.
Giovanna Fletcher and Tom Daley also recounted their childhood memories of being picked on at school. In her video, Giovanna recalled: "It started with small comments like saying that I smelt. Someone had been over to our house and said that our family smelt, they said something about my nan. Then calling me out for being fat. I can remember it escalating to the point where I would get pushed. We were doing a thing for gymnastics and one of them purposefully pushed me into a brick wall and I scraped my face."
The author added: "On at least three occasions, the girls would be talking to me and they would be talking in a way that made me walk backwards. And each time I would fall into the rose bushes at school and I don't think there's anything quite as embarrassing as being with the school nurse and having rose thorns pulled out of your bum."
Tom appeared in his video alongside his husband Dustin Lance Black. He revealed the bullying started after he competed in the Olympics. "For the first few years at school, I had the best time," said the professional diver. "But then it was when I qualified for the Olympics when things took a bit of a turn. I came back from the Olympics after the summer holiday and all of a sudden, things had just changed. They took the mick out of what I was wearing on the diving board, they would throw stuff at me at lunchtime, it became this thing where diving became a burden rather than something I was proud of. It's really disheartening."