Top lady shot takes the helm at a new City member's club

CLAIRE Zambuni could be dangerous. A leggy blonde with Baywatch-style features and a big smile, I&rsquo;d not be surprised to hear that men routinely fall at her feet. But its her way with a gun that makes her particularly worth buttering up &ndash; she&rsquo;s the UK&rsquo;s best lady shot, in the top three best shots in the country and was in The Field magazine&rsquo;s list of the best 100 best shots ever. The prospect of meeting a self-made woman with deadly aim &ndash; &ldquo;a killer queen with sporting contacts to die for&rdquo; as The Field puts it &ndash; was alluring enough. But she is fast becoming the new social queen of the City, too. Last month she became a member of the Worshipful Company of Gunmakers and was awarded the Freedom of the City of London. And now hotelier Richard Balfour Lynn has recruited her to head up the new Searcy of London Club.<br /><br /><strong>EVERYWOMAN<br /></strong>Zambuni had been consulting for various luxury businesses including gun makers James Purdey &amp; Sons and tailor Charlie Allen when Balfour Lynn, who owns the Malmaison and De Vere hotel chains as well as caterer Searcy&rsquo;s, recruited her for the job of developing and directing the club. <br /><br />Her fingers had been in other interesting pies too, including the art market, where she bought and sold for high net worth clients and later set up her own business dealing in children&rsquo;s art. <br /><br />She still directs the Shooting Society at members&rsquo; club Home House and writes for magazines including Shooting Times. Someone of such versatility and social skill might seem just the person to provide events and attract members of all sorts. <br /><br />Yet Balfour Lynn wasn&rsquo;t immediately convinced, telling her he was concerned about her being too much of a socialite to buckle down to the job. As we sit eating meat at the top of (Searcy&rsquo;s) 30 St Mary&rsquo;s Axe, her eyes become fierce and she tells how &ndash; with extraordinary passion for an interviewee &ndash; she banged her fist on the table and told him not to be so insulting. A single mother who worked full-time was not going to tolerate being dismissed as a socialite. She got the job on the spot.<br /><br />Zambuni has other endearing, intriguing traits. She was a vegetarian for 10 years and arranged warehouse raves before becoming a countryside queen with royal friends. She was terrified of heights and an inexperienced rider, so she rode across the Andes to cure her fear. She lives in a sculpture park in the <br />Cotswolds and her &ldquo;laid back&rdquo; boyfriend, far from being a country big shot, runs a recycling company. <br /><br />Such a woman is in pole position to entice members and guests to the club &ndash; the events are dynamic, unusual and &ndash; in some cases &ndash; already sold out. Upcoming events include lunch with Sophie Dahl, dinner with French actress Louise Caron, four-course meals with matched wines, and a &ldquo;Horror Ball&rdquo; in honour of Halloween. There are two-to-three events a week, most of them costing between &pound;40 and &pound;100. <br /><br />Zambuni&rsquo;s enterprise is doing very well &ndash; but then for a woman so used to hitting her target, what else would you expect? <br /><br />For more information, events list and to join, visit