For many York children, being cooped up at home with their brothers and sisters for nearly three years because of Covid was hard. “It feels like it never ended!” said Forest of Galtres primary school pupil Jacob Popplewell.

“So imagine being locked up with your siblings for EIGHT YEARS!” retorted his schoolmate Grace Ballantyne.

Grace and Jacob were debating the thorny question of which was worse - the recent Covid pandemic, or the bubonic plaque which swept Europe in the middle ages.

Grace had the killer argument - and it wasn’t just to do with the fact that some people had to self isolate from the plague for eight years. The plague wiped out a third of the population of Europe and Africa, she pointed out. “Covid was bad, but the plague was much worse!” Jacob was forced to agree.

Given that the York Civic Trust’s annual primary school public speaking competition had twice been cancelled because of Covid, it wasn’t really surprising that coronavirus dominated the debate at the Merchant Adventurers’ Hall on Tuesday night. Children from eight primary schools across York who took part were given five topics to choose from. But five of the eight schools chose Covid.

Claudia di Giacomo and Charlotte Patterson from St Wilfrid’s talked about how lockdown had changed life patterns. Charlotte pretended to get all dreamy-eyed about a lockdown world in which she could have long lie-ins instead of going to school. And what do you want to do when you grow up? Claudia asked. Be a doctor, Charlotte replied. “Doctors need to learn about the human body!” Claudia reminded her - and that meant going to school...

Maisie Bennett of St Lawrence’s pointed out that we still didn’t know the full effects of Covid. “For some people it will cause complications all their life!”

Alex Little of Skelton Primary, meanwhile, admitted that, during the long months of lockdown, even the best computer games began to pall. “There’s only so many times you can play Roadblock!” he said.

While Covid dominated the discussion, however, it was a school that had chosen a different topic altogether which emerged the eventual winner of the competition.George Payne and Alessandro Garofalo of Lord Deramore’s School were talking about the plans for a statue of the Queen at York Minster - and wondering who else deserved to have a statue in York.

There were already some great names immortalised in statue form in the city, George said - Constantine, Queen Victoria, George Leeman, William Etty. “Who deserves to join them?

“Cristiano Ronaldo?” suggested Alessandro. “Johnny Depp? Or what about Boris Johnson?”

“Let’s quickly move on!” George said.

Eventually, the pair agreed there was really only one man deserving of the honour - former war veteran and 99-year-old fundraiser Captain SirTom Moore. “He was born in Keighley, a proper Yorkshire lad!” Alessandro said. The clincher.