Penny Lancaster thinks being bullied at school helped give her more confidence as an adult.

The 49-year-old star was the target of physical and mental abuse for five years at secondary school because of her height, the way she dressed and the way she spoke, and though she wishes she hadn't been subjected to the ordeal, she believes it's helped her stand up for herself and ignore online trolls.

She said: ''I was one of the lucky ones, I managed to come out the other side.

''I would rather have not gone through half of what I went through but it did give me the tools to deal with situations as an adult and the confidence to stand up to people, because you think, 'I'm just not allowing that to happen.'

''I tend to ignore bullies on social media and not give them fuel and I believe in smiling in the face of ignorance, being bigger and better than them, and rising above it.''

The 'Loose Women' star - who has sons Alistair, 14, and Aiden, nine, with husband Sir Rod Stewart - admitted the cruel taunts had a lasting effect on her.

She told Britain's HELLO! magazine: ''The bullying was both verbal and physical and I don't know what's worse. People always say sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never harm me but I kind of disagree with that.

''They torment you and it goes round and round in your head like a bad song. It sticks with you and can really affect you long term.''

And as a result of her own ordeal, Penny will always encourage her kids to be kind to others.

She said: ''I tell my sons that whatever is going on, whether it is at school or on the football pitch, to keep their side of the street clean.

''Be kind, respectful and a good person to show others how you want to be treated. Sometimes it's tougher to do that, but in the long run, you really come out on top I think.

''It really doesn't take much to be positive and kind.''