SYLVIA Vetta refuses to admit she is slowing down.

But she has handed over some of her responsibilities in the voluntary sector so that she can concentrate on her writing.

After achieving some success last year with her first novel, Brushstrokes in Time, she is now working on a second, The Well-Travelled Chest of Drawers, which is set in India and Oxford.

She is no longer chairman of Kennington Library and, from next year, will limit her involvement with Kennington Overseas Aid.

Mrs Vetta, who moved with her family to a house in Poplar Grove in the village in 1970, said the overseas aid organisation was now in its 49th year.

She added that she expected it to reach its half-century in 2018 but feared the landmark year could be its last.

She added: "Halcyon Leonard and I asked to resign from the triumvirate of chairwomen and there are no replacements for us.

"That means that 2018, our 50th, may well be KOA's last - Kennington is the only village in the country to have raised money in this way every year for 49 years.

"If 2018 is KOA's final year the KOA committee and our band of enthusiasts are determined to go out with a bang, with a great programme of events."

Mrs Vetta acknowledged that the voluntary group could survive but only if new people came forward to take up key roles.

For 16 years she was chairman of the aid organisation, which every year raises funds for overseas development projects.

She added: "We have a lot to celebrate - KOA has raised £558,284.57 for an amazing range of initiatives.

"Since 1998 we have concentrated on raising money for small charities which couldn't carry out the project without our support."

Mrs Vetta said the first organisation to be supported was the Joe Homan trust, which supports impoverished children growing up in India and Thailand.

The Kennington organisation backed a scheme to get girls into education and now some of the girls they have helped have gone on to become nurses, teachers, or set up small businesses.

Many other overseas communities have also been supported over the years, including those in Kenya, Tanzania and South Africa.

Fundraising events have included the Bagley Wood Fun Run and a concert featuring Radiohead's Colin Greenwood.

"I could go on because KOA has been an enriching part of my life for 40 years but all good things come to an end," Mrs Vetta admitted.

Now, writing is to be her main focus.

Brushstrokes in Time was inspired by an exhibition by the Chinese artist Qu Leilei.

"He told me the story of the Stars Arts Movement in China in the late 1970s," said Mrs Vetta.

"I’d never heard of it but I found it so inspiring that I wanted to write about it.

"Originally I was going to write it as non-fiction but it was suggested I study for the Diploma in Creative Writing in Oxford and achieving that gave me the courage to think I could actually write fiction.

"Qu Leilei’s story inspired the background of the novel."

The mum-of-three, who has seven grandchildren, was born in Luton shortly after the Second World War, daughter to Charles, a mechanical engineer and Doris who worked in a corset factory when she was a teenager.

Each Saturday from the age of seven Sylvia would visit Luton Central Library where she developed a love of language and literature that has stayed with her ever since.

After O-Levels and A-Levels at Luton High School Sylvia wanted to join Voluntary Service Overseas but Alec Dickson, the founder of VSO, , ruled that at the age of 17 she was too young.

Instead he suggested she consider joining a new programme of UK based Community Service Volunteers and in 1963 Sylvia went to Smethwick in the West Midlands to teach English to immigrant children.

In the summer of 1964, the country was entering a general election at a time when immigration from the Commonwealth and housing shortages, combined with political opportunism, made Smethwick the centre of the debate on race.

Amid this tense atmosphere Sylvia met her Indian-born husband Atam Vetta.

The couple got married in 1966 and bought a house in Handsworth before Atam’s new job as a lecturer at the new Oxford Polytechnic brought the family to Oxford.

Mrs Vetta gave up work when her first child, Justin was born, and the family settled in Kennington, moving to their latest home in the village in 1977.

Two more boys, Adrian and Paul, followed in quick succession and as the children grew up Mrs Vetta became involved in village life.

She co-founded with Mary Dennett the first mother and toddler Group in Oxfordshire, meeting in the old wooden village hall in Kennington.

She was the founding chairman of the Kennington Amateur Dramatic Society and, as chairman of the Friends of Kennington Library, fought a successful campaign to save the vital facility from closure.

Her close friend, Chinese artist Weimin He, said: "Sylvia is probably the most energetic person I have ever met."

Although Mrs Vetta is giving up some of her responsibilities she remains very busy.

One of her latest projects has been completing a set of interviews for the Castaways series, featured in The Oxford Times Limited Edition magazine, and the book, Oxford Castaways 3, was published earlier this year.

Proceeds from the sale of the book, featuring 30 people revealing which possessions they would take to a desert island, will support Sobell House hospice in Headington.