Friends, colleagues and pupils have remembered an "extraordinary" and "inspiring" former maths lecturer and union activist who went on to campaign for pensioners' rights.

Janet Shapiro, who died on July 29 aged 84, will be known to Ham&High readers as a columnist on behalf of Hornsey Pensioners Action Group (HPAG) and frequent letter writer.

From working class roots she went into academia and trade unions, remaining a campaigner and keeping in solidarity with her upbringing until her final days.

Born Janet Robina Marianne Howe in Kent in 1939, she was the youngest of four children and grew up in a council house where her father, brothers and other family worked at Sheerness Dockyard.

After qualifying as a teacher just before her 21st birthday, she spent a year on a mathematics supplementary course at Stockwell College, Bromley, where she met her husband Ramon Shapiro, known as Ray.

She became a maths lecturer and campaigner for the rights of pensioners and devoted much of her time working with the National Pensioners Convention, as well as with the
Hornsey Pensioners Action Group (HPAG).

Her life was celebrated by family and friends at Lauderdale House on August 13.

Ann Anderson, from HPAG, said the group felt "a deep loss".

She told the memorial that even in her final days Janet had been busy writing emails concerned with the group's history and identity.

"We saw her more as our leader keeping us away from becoming a pensioners information/social club and focusing on especially national pensioner issues," she said.

"Her fighting spirit was maintained until the end." 

The group's former treasurer Clive Evers said: "I had nothing less than admiration for the energy, diligence and persistence that she showed in all her voluntary activities whilst coping with her health problems."

Former colleague Colin Thunhurst worked with Janet at the Polytechnic of North London in the 1970s at a time of heightened political activity, including the Vietnam War, apartheid in South Africa, the Israeli occupation of surrounding territories and the civil rights movement in Northern Ireland.

He said: "As fellow trade unionists we found ourselves resisting a move by a handful of staff members who wished to depoliticise the nature of the union and replace it with a 'professional organisation'. Janet was a wonderful  colleague and a reliable comrade during this time." 

A former pupil, Eleni Berki met Janet while taking her course in using mathematical modelling in operational research.

She said it was an "outstanding course" and Janet was an "inspiring teacher".

Unable to attend the memorial, she said in advance: "I will bake some fresh apples in the way that Janet showed how to bake, I will listen to Mikis Theodorakis' dancing music that Janet liked so much and danced to, and I will be with you in spirit, celebrating Janet's life. 

"Somehow the feelings of happiness and sadness are multiplied and divided if shared 
among others and beloved ones."

A fierce defender of the NHS as a member of Haringey Keep Our NHS Public, Janet also belonged to Haringey Labour party’s health and care group.

Former Crouch End councillor David Winskill said: "I worked with Janet for many years when I was a councillor in Haringey, then later as I moved into Patient Voice for the NHS.

"Janet was an extraordinary person who made an extraordinary contribution to her community: I will miss her a lot."

Janet Shapiro is survived by her two children, Laura and Ian Shapiro.