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Big night . . . Sharon Russell and her grandson Josh Keating with their trophies at the New Zealand Country Music Entertainer of the Year Awards. PHOTO: SHANE KEATING

By SHELLEY TOPP

A moving rendition of a heartfelt song Kaiapoi’s Sharon Russell wrote in memory of her son Daniel, who died in a mining accident at 26, has seen her named Veteran Country Entertainer of the Year.

Her win at the New Zealand Country Entertainer of the Year Awards in Tauranga was even more special, when one of her grandsons, Josh Keating, aged 13, was named the New Zealand Junior Country Entertainer of the Year.

“To win with the song I wrote for Daniel made it even more special for me,” Sharon says.

She wrote Hole in My Heart after Daniel was killed in a mining accident in Australia in 2009. “He was just 26 years old. His death changed my life forever and I miss him every day.

“He was born on my 21st birthday and it just happened to be our birthday just three days before the awards, so I was already very emotional and nervous that I would not be able to get through my song without breaking down.

“But I did and won the title and that means so much to me.”

It was the first time Sharon had competed in the veteran section.

“It has been a goal of mine to compete as a veteran, so to win in my first competition is awesome, and to have Josh win also was incredible,” she says.

“This is incredibly special because it’s the first time Josh has been at Entertainer of the Year and the first time I have been there as a soloist, so for us to win together is priceless.”

Sharon had a big group of family and friends with her on the awards night, including her husband Paul, their daughter Gina Keating and her husband Shane Keating and their sons Josh, Jordan, Dan and Liam, plus friends, the Ginders family and Jay Shingleton.

Sharon also had success at the 2016 awards, performing with Gina and Shane as a family group called Always At Heart, winning the Senior Country Entertainer of the Year award.

“It was an amazing night,” Sharon says.

“Shane and I had never competed there before but Gina did a few years prior and also won the overall title, so it has been quite a successful journey for our family.”