Daughter of Patrick (b. 1956) and Jennifer (née McNamara) McGarty (b. 1956). Older sister to Camilla Mairead McGarty (b. October 1992). Attended St Teresa RC School in Borehamwood. Attended Loreto College in St Albans (2003-2007). Prior to landing the role of Whitney Dean in "EastEnders" (1985), Shona had been involved in amateur musical theatre for 6 years.