Margaret Thatcher had an affection for Finchley that regularly brought her back to the constituency, even during her time as Prime Minister, according to a close Conservative colleague.

Tessa Phillips was the secretary to Baroness Thatcher’s agent between 1977 and 1990.

She regularly worked alongside Britain’s first female Prime Minister at the Finchley Conservative office in Ballards Lane.

A book of condolence has been opened there this week in front of a wall adorned by a large portrait of The Iron Lady, who passed away following a stroke on Monday morning, aged 87.

And Mrs Phillips, who worked at the offices until retirement in 2010, said the death of Finchley’s most famous politician has brought sadness, but also fond memories, to the constituency where she first gained a seat in the House of Commons.

Prime Minister David Cameron told Parliament that Baroness Thatcher had made Britain great again.

Mrs Phillips said: “I think it’s fair to say she put Finchley on the map. She will be remembered with great affection as a person who cared about the area.

“I think she liked to get back to Finchley, it was a more relaxed setting for her.

“Even while she was Prime Minister, she would still carry out all the local things a normal Member of Parliament would. I would greet her at the office and often arrange a light supper for us when we worked late.

“She was always thankful and a real part of the team around here. I didn’t feel like her secretary - she treated everyone so nicely.

“I was very, very sad to get the news of her death. It has brought back a lot of memories. It was a great privilege to have had the opportunity to be near and get to know someone like that. It is an opportunity I am always grateful for.”

Vicki Lazer, of Woodside Grove, in Woodside Park, met Lady Thatcher when she greeted the Prime Minister in Aberconwy, Wales, where she was serving as mayor.

Mrs Lazer, now 86, recalls with great affection her meeting with the feisty politician during the Welsh Conservative Conference in 1979. 

She said: “We had some good personal conversations. She was fantastic, she asked about my family and we talked casually.

“She was tickled pink by the fact I had won an earlier by-election ahead of two men – she was an inspiration to me.”

Even as she climbed the political ladder, Baroness Thatcher always took time for her constituents, something Jack Welby recalled this week.

He lived in Golders Green during the Finchley representative’s time as Prime Minister but wrote to her regarding a local traffic campaign in her constituency.

He said: “I am upset about her death. I was glad she was trying to get the country back on its feet during her time as Prime Minister.

“I think she was always trying to be a good MP and Finchley is a better place for her serving here.”