MIDDLESEX CENTRE, ONT. -- St. Joseph’s Health Care and Western University are partnering to establish the William and Lynne Gray Research Chair in Mobility and Activity, thanks to a $2.5-million donation from the couple.

A first of its kind in Canada, the chair’s research will focus on improving mobility for seniors, and understanding and managing mobility issues for all ages.

The donation is being matched by Western, to create a $5-million endowment to fund the position indefinitely.

The funding from the Grays, of Gray Ridge Egg Farms, is part of a larger $7.5-million commitment to the hospital, which has also funded a mobility program at the Parkwood Institute, which is where the new chair will work.

St. Joseph's President and CEO Dr. Gillian Kernaghan said in a statement, "Their donation will provide the resources needed to enhance the quality of life for a growing number of people living with mobility challenges in our community and beyond."

Mobility limitations can cause social isolation, loneliness and depression, severely impacting quality of life.

Bill Gray added in a release, “Compromised physical mobility and activity adversely affects the well-being of many, many people, and we’re very pleased to help support the advancement of care that can help so many.”

Maintaining mobility both for younger people impacted by trauma or illness, and older adults, is expected to grow in importance along with the number of seniors – which is expected to double in southwestern Ontario in the next 20 years.