Until September 2007 Iona worked in the horse racing industry, riding and training racehorses in the UK, Australia and Ireland. From a Grand National favourite to lowly sellers at Wolverhampton. She was responsible for some of the very best horses to many of the extraordinarily slow.
Aboard 1999 Grand National favourite Fiddling the Facts
After thirteen years, two broken legs and ankles, smashed out teeth, dislocated vertebrae, ruptured discs, a dislocated ankle, a broken foot, shredded tendons, too many bangs on the head and some “spectacular crushing injuries”, according to one surgeon, Iona left the world of jump racing behind her, packed her bags in Ireland and returned to the UK.
Swapping her saddle for a satchel she went back to school, graduating with a first class honours degree from City University London in July 2010, in addition to studying Arabic for two years part-time at the University of Westminster.
Since beginning her new life Iona has worked for: BBC Newsnight(in 2008), the Bureau of Investigative Journalism (2010), GCap Media (now Global Radio 2007-2008), Bloomberg News (2010) and gained valuable experience with the Sunday Times after winning the Tom Walker Trust Award in 2009.
In October 2010 she moved to Sana’a, Yemen and worked as an editor and then managing editor for theYemen Times. Due to growing demand as Yemen’s revolution began she left the Yemen Times in February 2011 to concentrate on freelance work.
In 2013 she was nominated for the UK’s most prestigious journalism award: The Martha Gellhorn Prize for her coverage of America’s covert war in Yemen ‘that exposed establishment conduct and its propaganda, or “official drivel”, as Martha called it.’ She was also shortlisted for the 2013 Kurt Schork Award in International Journalism.
In February 2013 Iona, along with her taxi driver, narrowly escaped an attempt on her life by an unidentified gunman outside Yemen’s Ministry of Defence in Sana’a.
During her time in Yemen Iona has contributed to: The Times, The Sunday Times, The Irish Times, USA Today, Al Jazeera America, TIME, Foreign Policy, The Los Angeles Times, The Daily Beast, The National (UAE), The Yemen Times, The Gulf, Global Post, Index on Censorship, Esquire Magazine (Middle East), and IHS Jane’s.
Her footage has been used on CNN and her pictures have been seen in The Times, The National (UAE),USA Today, on Global Post and Al Jazeera. She has also appeared on Al Jazeera, the BBC (TV and radio), Sky News, Channel 4 News, France24, CTV, CBC, Democracy Now!, NPR, RTE and CBS.
Iona has been back as a guest lecturer at City University, spoken at the British Yemeni Society and Chatham House.