IN July 2007, people in Oxford were waking up to find their city under water.

Abingdon Road and Botley Road had been turned into rivers and hundreds had been forced to abandon their home.

Newspaper reporters and TV crews from across the country descended on the city to capture the devastation.

Oxford Brookes art student Lois Muddiman, then chairman of the West Oxford Community Centre, had been talking with fellow association members for some time about the growing issue of climate change and what the centre might be able to do, in its own small way, to make a difference.

They had already put solar panels on the roof but they wanted to do more.

The morning after the floods hit, Mrs Muddiman was woken up at home in Harley Road by a call from her fellow green-minded friend Phil Bloomer.

She recalled: "Phil rang me up and said 'we have the world's press on our doorstep – we should have some kind of demonstration about the fact climate change is causing changes in the weather'."

By an amazing coincidence, Mrs Muddiman had just completed an art project for her degree in which she created four-foot-high, bright red letters spelling out the word ENOUGH.

So, when Mr Bloomer suggested some kind of a photo op, she replied: "Yes, brilliant, I've got these big red letters – we can make a bit of a splash!"

At 9am, Mrs Muddiman started sending out emails; by noon she had rallied more than 100 people to meet at the community centre in their wellies.

"It was like climate change was now on our doorstep: people were used to flooding in the winter, but this was the first time we'd flooded in the summer since I moved to West Oxford in 1990."

The press – including the Oxford Mail – did indeed turn up to take pictures, capturing a pivotal moment.

Out of the frustration, fear and defiance of those few days, summarised in that one word 'enough', two group formed that would shape the future of Oxford.

The first, led by a group of proactive and mechanically-minded men, was Oxford Flood Alliance: a group determined to find immediate, practical solutions to stop their homes and their neighbours' homes from flooding – barriers, river dredging and culvert creation.

The second group was led by a group of West Oxford women, whose ambition was in some ways even greater: to change the way people in Oxford lived; to reduce the environmental impact which they felt was contributing to the global climate change and which they were convinced was behind the summer floods.

At the time this group of women, who already had full-time jobs, weren't sure exactly what they wanted to achieve.

They held a meeting in October – the month before the flood alliance's first meeting – where they invited the whole of West Oxford and Botley, and a speaker from the recently-formed Low Carbon Wolvercote group to give them some inspirational ideas on low-carbon living.

Mrs Muddiman mused: "What was interesting is that they were all men, looking at very practical local solutions, and we were all women looking at the bigger picture: we were looking at the way people behave, the men were looking at 'what happens if you dig ditches here', but we needed both groups."

At that first meeting, the founding members of Low Carbon West Oxford set up five working groups: food, trees and wildlife, renewable energy, transport and household management.

Those five groups would on to win millions of pounds of funding, involve hundreds of volunteers and change lives across Oxfordshire and the country.

In 2008, their first year, the group won £30,000 funding to start work.

The following year, they set up a company, West Oxford Community Renewables, which installed solar panel arrays on the roofs of Aldi on Botley Road, Matthew Arnold School, the King's Centre in Osney Mead and a group of houses on South Street, Osney Island.

One of the first 'members of public' to buy shares in the company was Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

That same year, LCWO planted 640 trees across Botley and Oatlands Park and created Kingfisher Wildlife Corner behind West Oxford Community Centre.

In 2010, the group adopted 14 acres of land belonging to Corpus Christi college in south Oxford to create Hogacre Common Eco Park, now home to the Oxgrow community allotments, a community centre, a small orchard, beehives and a huge green open space.

The same year, LCWO also spawned a group which would go on to dominate the sustainability scene in Oxford – Low Carbon Hub (as well as planting another 1,100 trees).

The group's next big project would be its most ambitious ever - creating a hydroelectric power plant in the river Thames in the middle of Oxford.

First conceived in 2002, it was West Oxford Community Renewables who took the reins and in five years raised the £650,000 needed to create it at Osney Lock.

The plant was 'commissioned' in January 2015, and in the 2016/ 17 financial year generated 225kWh – 125 per cent of its predicted annual output and enough electricity to power 70 homes for those 12 months.

Over the decade the group has also given free advice and support to hundreds of households across the city about how to be more energy-efficient, saving money and cutting carbon.

Looking back, Mrs Muddiman says: "We think we have met our aims.

"In fact, from the point when we came up with the idea in my kitchen it's far exceeded our expectations.

"One of the things I'm most proud of is we were ahead of the curve: we were right at the forefront and in those early years we did quite a lot of mentoring, talking to other groups across the country.

"We fostered so many groups locally, we helped to normalise this kind of behaviour.

"Now, I think a lot of the population of West Oxford would consider their carbon footprint before taking any action."

Looking to the next ten years, Mrs Muddiman summarises the group's main ambition in two words: air pollution.

It feels particularly appropriate that the group is still doing exactly what it did when it was founded – stopping something unwanted from flooding the Botley Road, except this time it is not water but toxic car fumes.

What's more, the most obvious solution to the problem – getting cars off the road – would uphold the group's proud tradition of not just saving the environment, but making Oxford residents' daily lives easier.

If it sounds like a grand ambition, this group has reason to be confident.

Asked if it was a daunting challenge, trying to finally solve the decades-old traffic problems on Botley Road, Mrs Muddiman remains un-phased.

"Why can't we?"